Gas tanker Lech Kaczynski with first cargo already on its way from USA to Poland

The first newly-built gas carrier chartered by PGNiG (Orlen Group) – Lech Kaczyński – received its first commercial LNG cargo at the Cheniere Group’s Sabine Pass LNG Facility terminal. The vessel was moored there, at the loading pier, for approximately 51 hours, from Thursday, 16 February. It set off on its first voyage with its cargo on the night of Saturday to Sunday, 19 February.

The LNG carrier, chartered by the Polish LNG importer, docked at berth 3 of the Cheniere Group’s Sabine Pass LNG Terminal in Louisiana on Thursday, 16 February, at approximately 21:45 local time. The vessel’s unmooring and departure to sea, after loading, took place after 02:00 Polish time on Sunday, 19 February.

The ship is carrying approximately 70,000 tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Poland. Unloading in Świnoujście is expected in the first decade of March.

It’s worth recalling that the vessel left the Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in Ulsan on December 22 and the last Korean port of Gwangyang LNG Terminal – Posco LNG Berth in Yosu on December 25, where it took a small amount of technological cargo to cool the tanks and cargo installation.

The vessel entered the Sabine Pass LNG terminal after waiting for about four days (from 12 to 16 February) at anchorage.

Sailing under the flag of the second (open) register of the French International Ship Register (FIS), the Lech Kaczyński (IMO No. 9922976; GT 114,100, deadweight 95,428 t; cargo capacity 170,548 m³), chartered for 10 years by PST LNG Shipping Ltd – a subsidiary of the London branch of PGNiG Supply & Trading (PGNiG Group), is formally owned by Societe Anonyme de Credit à l’Industrie Francaise (CALIF SA) – a subsidiary of Societe Generale SA.

The registered shipowner or formal direct owner is SNC Martin of France, a subsidiary of CALIF SA, while operationally the vessel is owned by Norwegian shipowner Knutsen OAS Shipping AS. Knutsen, through its French subsidiary Knutsen LNG France, is also responsible for technical and crew management.

In 2022, Poland was ranked as the eighth largest importer of US LNG, as illustrated in the chart below, alongside photos of the gas carrier Lech Kaczynski in Sabine Pass.

As PKN Orlen pointed out in mid-December last year, its own maritime fleet would provide Orlen Group with efficient transport of liquefied natural gas to Poland and strengthen the company’s position in the global LNG market. It was announced then that “in 2023, the Orlen Group will have two LNG vessels built for its needs”. By the end of 2025, the number of such LNG carriers will increase to eight. We are talking about ships that are newly built, specifically for charter by PGNiG (Orlen Group). Notwithstanding those, the first of which (LNGC Lech Kaczyński) has already been commissioned, PGNiG also has three existing LNG carriers (from the second-hand vessel market) chartered for three years.

In mid-December 2022, a ceremony was held in Ulsan, South Korea, to name two LNG carriers ordered by PGNiG Supply & Trading, an Orlen Group company specialising, among other things, in LNG trading, Lech Kaczyński and Grażyna Gęsicka. The Grażyna Gęsicka is expected to start transporting LNG in the second half of this year. According to some sources, the vessel is expected to be handed over by the Hyundai Heavy Industries Co Ltd shipyard in Ulsan in June this year.

PKN Orlen is the largest multi-utility company in Poland, supplying fuel and electricity. In November 2022, the company formally completed the acquisition of PGNiG Group, Poland’s largest gas supplier, and previously of Lotos Group, the country’s second-largest fuel supplier. Both companies are active in oil and gas exploration and production in Poland and Norway.

The Orlen Group also includes Energa, an electricity producer and is also an importer of crude oil and fuels to Poland.

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