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Qatar to acquire up to 60 new LNG vessels

Minister of State for Energy Affairs and the President and CEO of Qatar Petroleum, H E Saad bin Sherida Al Kaabi, said yesterday that Qatar will be acquiring a substantial number of LNG vessels to transport the increased output of gas (the post-moratorium volumes). It may require up to 60 additional ships which will be depending on various factors.

H E Al Kaabi also said that it is still very fluid, and the exact number will become clearer with time as how many vessels will be required to transport the additional volume of nearly 50 million tonnes of LNG which will depend on customers’ destinations, size of contracts and vessels and many other factors.

“It should be between 50 and 60 vessels that we will require to transport the expanded output of LNG which will increase from 77 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) to 110mtpa by 2024. It will be very substantial number, but things will become clear with time,” said H E Al Kaabi in response to a question at a press conference held yesterday on the sidelines of the launch of TAWTEEN programme, a Qatar Petroleum initiative to enhance localising supply chain in the energy industry to support SMEs.

He added: “We have a dedicated team of experts who are already working on that element (to acquiring vessels). They have visited different shipbuilders around the world. There will be international tenders put in place to procure the ships. Everything is going ahead as per the plan.”

Currently, Nakilat, a Qatari-owned shipping and maritime company, is providing the critical transportation link in Qatar’s LNG supply chain. The company’s LNG shipping fleet is the largest in the world, comprising of 65 LNG vessels.

In addition to its core shipping activities, Nakilat operates the ship repair and construction facilities at Erhama Bin Jaber Al Jalahma Shipyard in Ras Laffan Industrial City via two strategic joint ventures: Nakilat-Keppel Offshore & Marine (N-KOM) and Nakilat Damen Shipyards Qatar (NDSQ).

Asked if any of those vessels could be built locally at the shipyard, he said that it is a state-of- the-art facility which does a lot of maintenance and repair works for ships and provide many other services to the industry but building LNG vessels in Qatar will not be price competitive and feasible.

“As far as the shipbuilding is concerned, we tried a bit in the past and realised that it is more successful when you have your own materials and huge manpower available at reasonable prices. But when you depend on imports, especially for building huge LNG vessels, it’s not economically feasible. So it will be done by others,” he explained.

He further said: “We built all our ships in South Korea in the past, so we are looking at South Korean companies and others to bid and meet our shipbuilding requirements in the future… And our local shipyard facility will continue providing other services, and also be used for the construction of offshore structures.” Commenting on the proposed new LNG trains and possible partners for the expansion project in the North Field, he said that QP is already moving full steam ahead alone.

“We are going to expand our LNG production from 77 mtpa to 110 mtpa in Qatar and 16 mtpa abroad (in the US) with the total revised volume reaching at 126 mtpa within 4-5 years,” he noted, adding that a lot of works related to the expansion project are going to be completed by next month, and contracts for onshore rigs, jackets and other engineering works are going to be announced very soon.

On selecting partners for the LNG expansion project, he said that QP will decide by the end of this year. However, it is open to go alone in case it doesn’t get right partners. “We like partnership model, but my job is to get the best and maximum value for the State of Qatar. We don’t need money; we don’t need investment; and we also don’t need know-how. What we need are good partners who can reciprocate value,” said the Minister, who is a professionally trained engineer with over three decades of experience in serving the oil and gas industry.
Source: The Peninsula

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