Avenir LNG claims all parties are happy with its move to shift orders for two mini LNG carriers from Singapore-based Keppel Corp to Chinese shipbuilder Nantong CIMC Sinopacific Offshore & Engineering Co (SOE).

Chief executive Andrew Pickering confirmed the small-scale start-up outfit had declared the two 7,500-cbm ships at Keppel, which were options on a pair of firm vessels under construction.

But he said Avenir, which is a partnership of Stolt-Nielsen, Golar LNG and Hoegh LNG, was outside the contractual date in providing performance guarantees on the two ships so talks were reopened.

“We had an opportunity to look around and SOE was right in front of us,” Pickering said.

Avenir had already inked two firm 20,000-cbm LNG units at SOE, adding in two pairs of options. Pickering added that Keppel was never interested in this ship size.

He said SOE offered a slightly different design, which gives Avenir double hulls, ice-class 1B and twin azimuths on its vessels.

“We got some increased functionality, and we got the terms and conditions we were looking for,” Pickering said.

No price has been given on any of the SOE newbuilds. Keppel’s first two 7,500-cbm LNG carriers were priced at SGD 105m ($76m) in total and are due for delivery in 2021.

Pickering believes Keppel may have “underbid” on the first two 7,500-cbm ships for the company, saying it is not until shipyards start the construction process that they discover this. He described the price on the SOE vessels of this size as "very comparable".

Pickering claimed Keppel was not disappointed as it has a healthy orderbook, adding “so it is the best situation for all”.

He said Avenir wants to maintain a good relationship with the yard, which is also important to its shareholders.