Qatar Shipping to acquire more LNG vessels

By OGJ editors

HOUSTON, Nov. 5 -- Qatar Shipping Co.'s LNG-driven business plan calls for the company to acquire interests in several more LNG vessels early next year and other ships in 2004, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' news agency OPECNA reported.

Last week at Shina Shipyard in Tongyoung, South Korea, Qatar Shipping General Manager Nasser Al-Romaihi launched M.T. Al Noman, the first in a series of three 37,000 dwt product and chemical tankers. The vessel currently is tied up at a lay-by berth for fitting-out, in preparation for delivery to Qatar Shipping in January.

The other two vessels, Dukhan and Jinan, are due for delivery by March and June, respectively.

In addition, the company last April ordered its first LPG vessel, scheduled for delivery in April 2004, and Qatar Shipping has opted to go ahead with a second ship based on future projections and the possibility of getting more firm business on a spot basis, OPECNA said. Salem Butti Al-Naimi, Qatar Shipping's chairman, said the company had signed a newbuild contract with STX Shipbuilding Co., Busan, South Korea, for construction of the second LPG vessel, a 23,000 cu m, fully refrigerated tanker, to be delivered in December 2004.

Al-Naimi also said the company would finalize an ownership interest agreement soon with Denmark's A.P. Moller for part interest in an LNG vessel for the use of Ras Laffan Liquefied Natural Gas Co. Ltd. (RasGas), the news service reported.

Last month—in order to accommodate LNG exports from RasGas—Qatar Shipping agreed to take a one-fourth equity interest in an LNG carrier that Mitsui OSK Lines is constructing.

In line with its objective of marketing LNG from Qatar's giant North field—the world's largest natural gas reservoir—Qatar Shipping, along with ExxonMobil Corp. predecessor Mobil Corp. and Osprey Maritime Ltd., formed Qatar LNG Shipping Co. Ltd. in 1997. The company and its fleet of LNG carriers is intended to help Qatar achieve its goal of becoming a major global LNG supplier (OGJ, Nov. 24, 1997, p.

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