Qatar has the world's third largest gas reservoir after Iran and Russia
South Korean shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries has claimed it is near winning a $1bn order with Qatar to build six liquefied natural gas carriers. Qatar is a major exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), and boasts huge reserves of the fuel.
Samsung, the world's third biggest shipbuilder, said it expected to seal the Qatar deal next month, with each ship costing $160-70m.
Analysts said the most likely candidates were state-run Qatar Petroleum or the government's shipping firm.
Strong demand for LPG carriers underpinned Samsung Heavy's profits during the first six months of the year.
If the Qatar order is sealed, Samsung will have sold 11 LNG ships so far this year, with the total global market for the vessels estimated at only 20-25 this year.
Last year, South Korean ship builders landed 21 orders for LNG ships, out of 29 worldwide.
But despite their global lead, South Korea's ship builders saw demand fall 30% during the April to June period this year. Samsung builds membrane-type LPG carriers.
These are popular because they are cheaper to build and use less fuel than traditional models.
In addition, their four gas chamber structure leads to improved visibility for the crew and a lower centre of gravity, compared with the traditional globe-shaped design.
Samsung Heavy Industries shares gained 1% in Seoul on Tuesday. ©