(Bloomberg) -- China National Offshore Oil Corp., the country’s state-owned oil and gas giant, is expanding its fleet of LNG carriers to increase its trading power on the global market. 

CNOOC Gas and Power Group Co., a company unit and the country’s biggest LNG importer, is more than doubling the fleet to increase its flexibility to move cargoes around the world and boost profit potential, it said in a statement. 

The firm placed contracts for 12 ships worth 16 billion yuan ($2.2 billion) with China State Shipbuilding Corp. in 2022. The first of those vessels, Greenergy Ocean, was delivered on Wednesday. 

“More ships under our command will help us gain leverage in global trade and price negotiations,” said Zhu Yanyan, a senior official with CNOOC Gas and Power. The new vessels add to the company’s existing 10 tankers and will raise its import capacity to 16 million tons a year, according to the statement. 

China regained its crown as the world’s largest LNG importer last year, with purchases rising 13% to 71.3 million tons, after a dip because of the pandemic. Other firms like PetroChina are also expanding LNG shipping capacity to compete with the world’s biggest energy traders. 

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