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Chinese shipbuilding sails into new era

China's shipbuilding industry is stepping into a new development era with the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) ships contract in the nation signed on August 11th in Beijing.

Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) Co Ltd is to build two and option one LNG ships with a capacity of 147,200 cubic metres each for the LNG project in southern Guangdong Province. The project, which is expected to be put into operation in mid-2006, will import over 3 million tons of LNG from Australia annually to supply the energy-starved region.

"The contract announced that China will start to construct its first LNG ship, filling a blank in the country's shipbuilding history," said an official from the National Development and Reform Commission, at the signing ceremony.

The first two LNG vessels, with a total investment of US$400 million, will be delivered in October 2007 and in early 2008 respectively. The option ship will be delivered later.

The carriers are jointly invested by COSCO, China Merchants Group Ltd, Upper Horn Investments Ltd of Guangdong Yuedian Group, Shenzhen Shipping Corporation, Australia LNG Pty. Ltd (ALNG), and the Energy Transportation Group.

Each ship will be able to deliver about 1.42 million tons of LNG a year from Withnell Bay in Australia to Dapeng Bay in Guangdong.

Shipbuilder Hudong-Zhonghua began its study on LNG ship construction in 1999. To date, 90 per cent of the ships' design and 80 per cent of the equipment order have been completed.


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