Middle East producer QatarEnergy has firmed up 17 pre-reserved LNG newbuilding slots worth QAR 14.2bn ($3.9bn) with South Korean shipbuilder HD Hyundai Heavy Industries as it kicks off Phase 2 of its huge LNG carrier acquisition project.

Announcing the slot agreements today, QatarEnergy said the deal marks the start of the second phase of QatarEnergy’s LNG ship acquisition program.

The company said that together with the 60 ships that were contracted by shipowners for QatarEnergy in the first phase of the programme at a South Korean and a Chinese yard this agreement brings the total number of confirmed new LNG vessels to be delivered to QatarEnergy and its affiliates to 77, with more to follow.