Qatar Gas Transport Company (Nakilat), the world’s largest shipper of liquefied natural gas (LNG), will complete its fleet expansion on schedule in mid-2010, a senior company executive said.
Nakilat owns the fleet that ships Qatar’s gas around the world. The country is the world’s largest LNG exporter and is completing a massive capacity expansion programme this year that will take its annual production capacity to 77 million tonnes from the current 54 million.
“The remaining vessels will be delivered by the middle of this year,” Mohammad Siddiqui, director for treasury and planning, said late on Tuesday.
The LNG fleet will have 54 vessels once the final four have been delivered, he said. Nakilat will fully own 25 vessels and part-own the remaining 29 vessels.
The vessels are leased out on a long-term basis to Qatar’s state-run LNG producers Qatargas and RasGas, which means Nakilat has steady revenue, Siddiqui said. “It doesn’t affect us whether they take a trip or not,” he said. “The revenue stream is solid.”
Siddiqui did not say whether Nakilat’s entire fleet was operating. Several of the world’s largest LNG production facilities began output in the last year in Qatar, just as global demand for energy fell due to the economic recession.
The contracts are for a set amount and are adjusted each year for inflation, Siddiqui said. He declined to say how much the leases were worth.
He also said Nakilat would have no refinancing needs for the next decade after last year completing a $6.8 billion financing programme began in 2006 to build 25 ships at South Korean shipyards for the fleet expansion. “We have no new needs until 2021. We could do if the market is right of course,” he said. “We’re in excellent shape. We’re happy.”
Once the expansion has been completed, the fleet will include 14 giant Q-Max carriers, which can hold up to 266,000 cubic metres of LNG, almost double the size of a conventional 145,000-cubic-metre LNG vessel.
The joint venture Nakilat formed with Dutch firm Damen Shipyards Group last week to operate a shipbuilding facility in the port of Ras Laffan is part of a five-stage plan to develop services offered at the port, Siddiqui said. The venture will build supply vessels, tugs, and coastguard ships at the shipyard in Ras Laffan, he said.
Other plans for the port include offering maintenance for Nakilat’s LNG fleet and building offshore facilities for petrochemical plants.
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