Chinese shipping venture owned by China Shipping Development Co. (China Shipping) and partners China Petrochemical Corp (Sinopec) and Mitsui O.S.K Lines Ltd. will buy six liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers for about $1.2 billion, Bloomberg reports.
"We will expand LNG transportation business to make it become a new profit growth driver as soon as possible," said China Shipping Chairman Li Shaode.
"The deal means a 20-year shipping contract for us, which will bring us stable earnings."
China Shipping, which reported a 93 percent drop in profits for 2012, has faced low demand and excess capacity in the shipping market.
The six vessels will be built by Chinese shipyard Hudong Zhonghua Shipbuilding Group Co., and China Shipping is in talks with two shipyards to make another four vessels, which could be announced later this year.
The company's purchase of the six ships is part of a shift in focus toward LNG, according to Chinese shipping news site SinoShip News.
The company has already started shipping the fuel domestically through chartered carriers and plans to expand its fleet to 14 LNG carriers.
China has been working to increase its use of natural gas, and the energy company PetroChina recently announced that it would invest more than $60 billion over a decade in Australian natural gas projects.