China is designing one of the world's biggest liquefied natural gas tankers to transport the cleaner-burning fuel.
China is designing one of the world's biggest liquefied natural gas tankers to transport the cleaner-burning fuel, competing with South Korean builders including Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Marine Design and Research Institute of China plans to build a Q-Flex LNG tanker, the world's second-biggest type of LNG tanker with a capacity of more than 200,000 cubic metres, said Zhu Jianzhang, a marketing official with the state research unit.
Qatar had ordered 45 of the world's biggest tankers from South Korean shipyards including Samsung Heavy Industries Co.
Chinese shipyards are building two conventional LNG tankers of about 145,000 cubic metres each, after delivering three, to transport the fuel to LNG terminals on China's east coast. The country's shipyards are stepping up the rivalry with Japanese and South Korean builders to supply ships that will meet rising fuel demand in China, the world's second-largest energy user.
'China will increase its market share of LNG tanker-building when more import terminals start operation as the government aims to rely on homemade vessels for imports of LNG,' said Kong Fanhua, a senior researcher at China Ocean Shipping Group Co.
'In the short term, China won't be a threat to Korea in LNG tanker-building.' China has agreed to buy 5 million tonnes a year of LNG from Qatar, and is asking for more gas, Qatar's Oil Minister Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah said on Monday.
China's first domestically built tanker, Dapeng Sun, completed its maiden voyage to southern China's Guangdong province from Australia in May, Shenzhen-based Guangdong Dapeng LNG said on May 4 last year. The vessel took more than four years to design and build compared with 15 months for Samsung Heavy to build the world's biggest LNG tanker, which can hold twice the amount of LNG as conventional tankers.
'China has accumulated experience and technology after building three LNG vessels so there won't be big problems to build a Q-Flex,' Mr Kong said.
Qatar, the world's biggest LNG producer, has ordered 31 tankers of 209,000 cubic-metre capacity, known as the Q-Flex, and 14 Q-Max vessels from three South Korean shipyards including Hyundai Heavy and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co.
Samsung Heavy was contracted to make 11 tankers, of 266,000 cubic metres each. A Q-Max, which is about 22 per cent bigger than a Q-Flex, holds enough LNG to power South Korean households for more than two days.
For Samsung Heavy, the world's second-largest shipyard, LNG vessels account for 30 per cent of revenue, CH Park, executive vice- president for project planning, said in July.
Large LNG tankers burn less fuel and produce 30 per cent less emissions compared with a typical tanker, Mr Park said.
The bigger LNG tankers have a re-liquefaction plant that returns evaporating gas back to the storage tanks, maximising the fuel cargo at the discharge port. Traditional tankers typically lose 0.15 per cent of cargo a day during a voyage.
Qatar is building six LNG production lines, or trains, of 7.8 million tons each, Qatar Petroleum, the biggest shareholder in the LNG projects at Ras Laffan, said on its website.
Qatar Petroleum's partners include Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell plc and ConocoPhillips.