zoom Japanese shipping major Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) said today that China COSCO Shipping Corporation Limited will take an equity stake in MOL’s wholly owned subsidiary that will own four LNG carriers serving the Russia Yamal LNG project.COSCO Shipping informed earlier this week that the group’s board of directors had approved the acquisition of 50% stake in four LNG vessels intended for the Yamal LNG Project from MOL, but did not provide many details on the move.According to MOL, the ownership will be split 50%-50% between MOL and China COSCO Shipping. MOL has already signed long-term charter contracts for the four 174,000 cbm LNG carriers through its wholly owned company in June this year.The ships are intended for delivery and deployment on Yamal LNG project in 2019 and 2020 onwards, and will transport LNG transshipped by the project from Europe.This is the fourth joint LNG project involving MOL and China COSCO Shipping, following one for ExxonMobil, involving a total of four vessels which were delivered from 2015 through 2016, another for SINOPEC with six vessels to be delivered from 2016 through 2018, and the ice-class LNG carriers for the Yamal LNG project, with three vessels to be delivered from 2018 through 2019.The total number of vessels co-owned by MOL and China COSCO Shipping will be increased to 17 in 2020 when all vessels including those in latest project are in service.Separately, Russian natural gas producer NOVATEK, the majority shareholder in the Yamal LNG project, signed a Strategic Cooperation Agreement with the Chinese National Petroleum Company (CNPC).Under the deal, the parties committed to cooperate in implementing the Arctic LNG 2 project, as well as collaborating in different segments of the LNG and natural gas markets, including LNG trading and gas infrastructure development. “Our companies already have a history of effective cooperation, including the successful implementation of the Yamal LNG project. We believe our strategic cooperation agreement will further enhance our mutual relationship as well as open up new opportunities for both companies, utilizing our experience in implementing LNG projects combined with the enormous opportunities in the Chinese market, one of the most perspective gas markets globally,” Chairman of NOVATEK’s Management Board, Leonid Mikhelson, said.