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As part of its massive shipbuilding program, Qatar’s state-owned energy giant QatarEnergy has entered into a long-term agreement with Qatar Gas Transport Company Limited (Nakilat), the country’s shipping and maritime player, for the charter and operation of nine ultra-modern QC-Max size liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels, which are said to be the largest LNG ships ever built.

With a capacity of 271,000 cubic meters each, these nine QC-Max vessels constitute half of the 18 advanced QC-Max class LNG vessels that will be constructed at China’s Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard, thanks to a $6 billion contract, which the Qatari heavyweight signed with China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC).

These vessels, which will adopt a dual-fuel low-speed engine propulsion system and the NO96 Super+ containment system, will come with a total length of 344 meters, a beam of 53.6 meters, a depth of 27.2 meters, and a designed draft of 12 meters.

The deal with Nakilat was penned on May 8 by Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, Qatar’s Minister of State for Energy Affairs, President and CEO of QatarEnergy, and Abdullah Al-Sulaiti, CEO of Nakilat, at QatarEnergy’s headquarters in Doha. The signing ceremony was attended by senior executives from QatarEnergy, QatarEnergy LNG, and Nakilat.

Commenting on this occasion, Al-Kaabi noted: “We are very proud to have Qatar’s flagship LNG shipping and maritime champion join a list of world-class shipowners operating our state-of-the-art QC-Max LNG vessels – the largest ever built. There is no doubt that this is another testament to Nakilat’s significant capabilities.”

While the first stage of the Qatari player’s historic LNG shipbuilding program was kicked off with the order of 60 vessels at Korean and Chinese shipyards, the start of the company’s second phase of the mega shipbuilding program came in September 2023, when an order was placed for the construction of 17 LNG carriers. The firm also picked Nakilat to own and operate up to 25 conventional-size LNG carriers under the TCP agreements from March 2024.

QatarEnergy’s fleet expansion program has encompassed the execution of shipbuilding contracts and time charter agreements for 104 conventional LNG vessels and 18 QC-Max class LNG ships so far, amounting to a total of 122 ultra-modern vessels, with the first new ship expected to be delivered by the end of the third quarter of 2024.

“With last month’s signing of the industry’s largest single shipbuilding contract ever, QatarEnergy is pushing ahead with the implementation of its historic LNG vessel expansion program with full confidence that Nakilat and our selected international shipowners will ensure that our fleet is operated to the highest and most advanced safety, technical and environmental standards,” concluded Al-Kaabi.

The Persian Gulf state’s energy giant has put the wheels in motion to increase its gas reserves by adding another expansion project to its arsenal at the North Field, thus, the North Field East (NFE) and the North Field South (NFS) undertakings will be joined by the North Field West (NFW) project, which is anticipated to scale up the country’s LNG production capacity by almost 85% from current production levels by 2030.


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