Samsung's gas puzzler

Samsung Heavy Industries has secured a substantial order for “gas carriers” which has puzzled shipbuilding experts.

Samsung tells investors it has signed a contract worth KRW 740.7bn ($720.5m) for six of the gas carriers from an Asian company it declines to identify.

At $120m per copy, the ships are too expensive to be VLGCs and too cheap to be conventional LNG carriers. 

Market sources tell TradeWinds it is possible the deal is for a series of ethane carriers, a ship type around which there has been much excitement in recent times.

TradeWinds reported in May that Exmar and BW Group were working with South Korean yards on a new breed of vessel – the very large ethane carrier (VLEC).

Calls to Samsung’s head office in South Korea were not answered today, while staff at its London office were unable to offer any insight into the contract.

While the mysterious gas carriers could not be formally identified, experts say this contract could mark a turning point strategically for the shipyard.

Samsung has focused on offshore contracts for some time but has shown a renewed appetite for commercial shipbuilding of late to counter a slowdown in offshore deals.