Norway-listed Stolt-Nielsen sees bright future for small-scale LNG with Avenir venture

Friday, 20 March 2020
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Norwegian-listed company Stolt-Nielsen said its natural gas unit was still pursuing its small-scale liquefied natural gas projects through Avenir LNG, including the delivery of six small-scale carriers.

Stolt-Nielsen Gas is continuing to invest in opportunities in LNG shipping and distribution, said the company with offices in London in its business review just published of all its divisions.

Its assets currently include 45 percent of Avenir LNG, a 2.3 percent stake in Golar LNG and six small-scale LNG carriers newbuilds under construction.

“Avenir’s strategy is to source, ship, store, distribute and sell LNG to small-scale, stranded communities that do not have access to a natural gas grid,” said Niels G. Stolt-Nielsen, the Chief Executive of the Stolt-Nielsen group.

Two strategic partners joined SNG as investors in Avenir, Golar LNG Ltd and Höegh LNG, each taking a 22.5 percent stake with Stolt-Nielsen retaining 45 percent.

Avenir has four 7,500 cubic metres capacity LNG vessels and two 20,000 cubic metre capacity carriers on order as it also continues to develop its first LNG terminal on the Italian island of Sardinia.

Stolt-Nielsen has LNG in its portfolio along with its tanker, storage, containers and sea farm businesses.

The Norwegian company with a presence in worldwide locations has its ordinary shares listed on the Oslo stock exchange.

The company reiterated in the annual report that its small-scale carriers were still on track for delivery in 2020 and 2021. 

Keppel Marine of Singapore is scheduled to deliver two 7,500 cubic metre LNG vessels by mid-2020, from their affiliated yards in Nantong, China. 

In 2021, Sinopacific Offshore & Engineering (SOE) will deliver two more 7,500 cubic metres capacity carriers as well as two with 20,000 cubic metres capacity from their yards, also in Nantong. 

Each of the ships is designed to perform safe ship-to-ship bunkering.

In October 2019, together with Malaysian shipping company, MISC Berhard, Avenir signed a term charter with Malaysia’s national oil and LNG production company Petronas.

The first 7,500 cubic metres capacity carrier will be based in Malaysia, enabling Petronas to provide bunkering to LNG-fueled vessels, plus transport services for small-scale terminals in the region. 

Avenir announced another a term charter in November 2019 with Golar Power to deliver LNG using the second 7,500 cubic metres capacity vessel to various ports in Brazil, as well as providing ship-to-ship bunkering. 

“Over the longer term, Avenir plans to develop new markets through small-scale LNG import solutions, invest in additional tonnage where necessary and expand its network of strategic bunkering locations,” said SNG.

The Stolt-Nielsen unit reported an operating loss of $4.1 million for 2019. 

“The losses were mainly attributable to costs related to the continued development of various small-scale LNG projects,” it added.

The company noted that during the fourth quarter of 2019, Stolt-Nielsen sold its investment in Avance Gas Holdings Ltd for $25.9 million. The $10.8 million gain on the sale was recorded to retained earnings.


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