Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) is to open a research and development (R&D) centre to encourage advances in LNG-related technology by December 2020.

The South Korean shipbuilder’s Geoje shipyard hosted a ceremony for the LNG system test facility last month.

The facility will enable SHI to research LNG core technologies, including the liquefaction of gases and cryogenic storage systems for ships and offshore plants.

Additionally, the company will offer its support to develop the local expertise of LNG technology development. The R&D centre will also facilitate training for the operation of LNG carriers.

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SHI also announced that it has won a KRW147bn ($125.4m) contract to build two Suezmax (S-Max, Suez Canal Maximum) tankers for an unknown Panamanian client. The tankers are expected to be delivered by March 2021.

With 130,000 to 150,000dwt capacity, the tankers will feature ballast water treatment systems and selective catalytic reduction to meet the International Maritime Organisation’s environmental regulations.

The ships will be fitted with various fuel-saving technologies, improving their operational efficiency.

SHI will install VESSEL on both tankers, a smart ship system that the company says will enable crew members to plan optimal fuel-saving routes, monitor the equipment performance in real-time and diagnose equipment failures.

The crew will also be able to operate the tankers through remote control at an onshore location.

In a statement, an SHI official said: “The stricter environmental regulations will increase the demand for smart ships designed with high fuel efficiency all around the world.

“Based on our world-class technological prowess and quality, we will secure more orders”.

The latest contract means SHI has now secured orders to build 16 vessels this year, which includes 10 LNG carriers, four oil tankers, one special-purpose ship and one FPSO. The combined value of the deals is almost $3.3bn.