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Petronet to take 26% stake in LNG shipping venture

Petronet LNG Ltd, India’s biggest importer of liquefied natural gas, will take 26% stake in a shipping venture planned to haul gas to its new terminal at Kochi in Kerala.

Petronet, which is building a 5 million tonne per annum capacity LNG import facility at Kochi, wants a 216,000 cubic meters capacity ship to haul liquid gas (LNG) from Gorgon, Australia. The vessel will be owned and operated by a shipping consortium, in which Petronet will pick up 26% stake.

“We have decided to take 26% stake in the LNG tanker we will time charter for 20 years,” Petronet Director (Finance) R K Garg told PTI here.

Petronet has called for bid to select shipowners and operators for transporting LNG to the Kochi terminal, which is scheduled to become operational by this year. “6-7 leading shipping lines have expressed interest. We are yet to decide on the bids,” Garg said.

It will hold 26% of the company formed by the successful ship-owning and operating consortium. The balance 74% will be distributed among the shipowners and operators.

Petronet has 3% stake in one of the three consortia formed to ferry 7.5 million tonne per annum of LNG from Qatar to its Dahej terminal in Gujarat. The consortia, lead by Mitsui OSK Lines of Japan and having Shipping Corp of India (SCI) as a partner, has leased out 3 LNG tankers to Petronet on long term time charter.

SCI holds 29.08% stake in 138,000 cubic meters capacity Disha and Raahi LNG carriers and 26% in 155,000 cubic meters capacity vessel named Aseem. Petronet has 3% stake in the consortium that operates Assem.

“When we hired Disha and Raahi in 2004, we were just starting up. We did not have experience. Now we have capacity and capability to get into shipping and so we are diversifying,” Garg said.

Petronet needs a vessel to ship 1.44 million tonne per annum of LNG it has contracted from Gorgon, Australia. Supplies from Australia will begin sometime in 2016.

“The vessel, as per our estimate, will cost $200 to 220 million,” he said.

Petronet operates a 10 million tonne a year LNG import and regassification facility at Dahej. It will expand this to 15 million tonne by next year.

Besides building the Kochi terminal, it is also constructing a 5 million tonne capacity facility at Gangavaram in Andhra Pradesh.

Petronet received its first LNG tanker ‘Disha’ on January 9, 2004 followed by second LNG tanker ‘Raahi’ on December 16, 2004 and the third LNG tanker ‘Aseem’ on November 16, 2009. The tankers transport long-term LNG that Petronet is buying from Ras Laffan, Qatar.
Source: Business Standard

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