Cool Company (CoolCo) – the newly established subsidiary of veteran offshore LNG operator Golar LNG, formed jointly with Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS), has secured the first job for its vessel. The first customer – chartering the vessel from CoolCo is Polish Oil and Gas Company (PGNiG).
Brokers in unofficial reports have revealed that CoolCo has chartered one of its tri-fuel diesel-electric (TFDE) LNG tankers to Polish operator PGNiG. According to information that emerged in the industry last week – the Polish company was looking for three vessels to rent for a year.
There is unofficial talk in the brokerage business that CoolCo has secured a daily charter rate of US$120,000 per vessel. The vessel in question is likely to be the gas carrier Golar Bear (IMO No. 9626039; year of construction 2014; GT 102,100; deadweight 82,017 t; cargo capacity 157,300 cubic metres) chartered under a 12-month contract.
This is believed to represent an increase of US$40k per day over levels previously seen. On Friday, March 4, brokers were offering annual TFDE vessel rates of US$95k per day.
The charter rate for the CoolCo vessel reflects the rising lease rates for LNG carriers amid growing volatility in the gas and commodity markets as Western countries consider sanctions on Russian oil and gas.
Industry analysts say that vessels with the lowest cargo boil-off ratio are chosen first in the market where gas prices are very high.
The charter of the CoolCo vessel by PGNiG is a landmark for shipowner EPS – CoolCo’s main shareholder with a 38 per cent stake – and for the new company’s owner, Israeli shipping magnate Idan Ofer, who has long considered entering the LNG shipping sector.
Golar, which formed CoolCo and contributed its vessels, controls 31 per cent of the company, with smaller shareholders raised in the IPO also controlling 31 per cent. CoolCo had an initial equity value of $400 million at the end of January.
The new company operates eight LNG carriers (TFDEs), separated from the Golar LNG fleet, and expects half of its fleet to be active in the spot market by the end of 2022. These vessels, built between 2013 and 2015, are equipped with membrane tanks with a single capacity of 160-162,000 cubic metres.
The tanker Golar Bear, now likely to be chartered by PGNiG, has visited Poland before – it delivered LNG from the US to the terminal in Swinoujscie, where it unloaded a year ago – on 7-8 March 2021.
Recall that PGNiG, as a result of signing charter agreements with Norwegian shipowner Knutsen OAS Shipping for 10-year periods, revealed at the beginning of November 2020 and at the end of July 2021, would lease four new LNG carriers, specially ordered for charter from the Polish operator and being built in a South Korean shipyard.
Golar Bear is most likely the first LNG tanker chartered by PGNiG for a slightly longer period (in this case – 12 months), if not the first independently chartered vessel of the Polish LNG importer.
The Golar Bear, after last offloading LNG (from Trinidad and Tobago) on 2 and 3 March in Bilbao, proceeded to the roadstead of Gibraltar, where she is believed to have taken on fuel on 6 and 7 March, before passing through the Strait of Gibraltar on March 7, westbound in the Atlantic awaiting further instructions.