Abu Dhabi's IPIC, Greek shipping firm form JV

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 25 -- Abu Dhabi's state-owned International Petroleum Investment Co. has signed an agreement with Greek shipowner Victor Restis for investments in shipping, energy, and transport.

Under the agreement, the two sides envisage an initial commitment of $1.5 billion for investment in the shipping and energy fields, potentially including storage, ship-building, pipelines, and ports.

According to one industry analyst, priority is likely to be cooperation in creation of a new tanker fleet for transporting Abu Dhabi's oil as well as third party cargos.

In announcing the joint venture, IPIC managing director Khadem A. Al Qubaisi said: "Through acquisitions and strategic holdings, the new consortium aims at creating the first vertically-integrated group that will be active not only in oil extraction and refining but in its transportation."

The joint venture, to be headquartered in Abu Dhabi, will be managed from Athens by the Restis Group, which already controls 60 ships and has several joint ventures in dry and wet shipping, especially through its subsidiaries Golden Energy Management and Golden Energy Tanker Holdings Corp.

In June 2006, MISC Bhd., formerly known as Malaysia International Shipping Corp. Sdn. Bhd., said its subsidiary AET Inc. Ltd. entered into an agreement with Golden Energy Tanker Holdings Corp. to form a joint venture to acquire, own, operate, and charter crude oil tankers.

The 50-50 joint venture company, which had an initial paid-up capital of $250,000 aims to market and transport crude oil.

Earlier, in March 2006, Golden Energy Management, spending nearly $500 million of its own money, ordered eight Handymax tankers and two Panamax tankers from South Korea's Sungdong Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering to be delivered by 2008.

Each Handymax was priced at $45.5 million, while the Panamax vessels came were $53.5 million each. The contracts also included options for two more Handymaxes and two more Panamaxes.

At the time, Golden Energy Management tied up a period-charter deal with Chevron Corp. for its 51,000-dwt Handymax tanker Energy Pioneer. The tanker was fixed three years at $22,500/day, or $24.3 million for the charter period.

In October 2005, the Greek company leased the 74,000-dwt Energy Challenger for 2 years at $31,500/day to Chevron. "The rate is some $1,500 over the market standard, reflecting the tanker's ice-class 1A," said an industry source.

Golden Energy Management began operations in August 2003 with the delivery of its first vessel, the Energy Century Panamax product tanker. At the time, the firm had another 11 tankers on order at Hyundai and STX.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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