Yamal partners ink LNG ship deal

Russia’s Novatek and Total of France have put pen to paper on a deal which will see a pair of liquefied natural gas tankers ordered for the giant Yamal LNG project.

Novatek said it had inked a deal with compatriot tanker giant Sovcomflot, known now as SCF Group, and a Russian bank for the construction of two units.

Although the Russian oil company was brief in Thursday’s statement, it would appear that it and Total, as joint partners in Yamal, will be ordering the tankers. Sovcomflot will operate the vessels on bareboat charter and be technical manager.

Vnesheconombank will finance the order.

Novatek did not give anything away as regards the units will be built, saying only that it would be at “one of the world’s leading shipyards” selected in a tender process. Delivery is envisaged in 2016.

Upstream’s sister shipping publication TradeWinds reports on Friday that Sovcomflot was being tipped to play some sort of role in the ordering of two LNG carriers for Yamal. The vessels would be specialised 170,000-cbm units.

TradeWinds says the Yamal partners feel the need to order one and possibly two carriers before concluding a formal tender with seven shipowners for the project, quoting unnamed industry sources.

In a separate announcement, Gazprom has reserved construction slots at Sovcomflot for an additional up to 13 LNG carriers, including one for its Sakhalin II project.

Apart from Sovcomflot, six other ship owners have been mentioned as being in talks with the Yamal partners over an original tender to built 16 vessels, including Seadrill owner John Fredriksen’s Golar LNG, TradeWinds says.

More than one owner is expected to be selected for the newbuilding project as a result of the high cost of the vessels and the problem of obtaining financing for them in the current financial markets, TradeWinds continues.

Novatek has an 80% stake in the project on the Yamal peninsula with French supermajor Total in for the other 20%. However, Novatek has recently been rumoured to be in talks with China’s Sinopec about farming out some of its stake.

The Yamal facility will have an annual production capacity of 16.5 million tonnes and will be based on the resources of the South Tambey gas condensate field located on Russia’s Yamal Peninsula.

South Tambey’s proven and probable reserves are estimated at about 1.3 trillion cubic metres of gas.



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