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The Qatar Gas Transport Company (Nakilat) and Overseas Shipholding Group (OSG) joint venture and Qatar Liquefied Gas Company (II) (QGII) have signed agreements with Hyundai Heavy Industries and Samsung Heavy Industries for the purchase and time charter of four 216,000 cubic metre large liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels.

The joint venture, which is 50.1% owned by QGTC and 49.9%, owned by OSG, will purchase the four new vessels for a total price of around US$900mn. The joint venture has placed orders for two vessels from each Hyundai and Samsung, to be built in South Korea.

QGTC entered into the joint venture with OSG in November 2004.
The state-of-the-art vessels will have twinned slow speed diesel engines and will have onboard liquefaction capability to handle cargo boil off. The ships will be some 60% larger than the average vessel operating today.

Upon delivery in 2007 and 2008, these vessels will commence 25-year time charters to QGII, with options to extend. The vessels are intended for use to transport LNG from Qatar to the UK.

Robert Curt, managing director of QGTC has said that acquisition procedures have already been put in place and that this is the second set of ships to have been secured under long-term agreements.

All marine activities within Qatar will be handled by QGTC not only for LNG transportation, but also LPG, sulphur, dry dock, repair facility, ship handling and so on as part of its portfolio.

The QR500mn dry dock facility, part of the Ras Laffan port expansion project is expected to commence operations by 2008.

“We are going to have a fleet of between 60 and 70 LNG vessels and each LNG vessel has to go to a major dry docking facility. By 2010, there will be about nine ships a day, 3,000 ships a year docking at Ras Laffan and all these ships have to be dry docked and repaired”, says Curt.

Curt also says a facility to construct small vessels and structures such as bridges next to the dry dock is being planned.
Qatargas CEO, Faisal Al Suwaidi adds that the total investment for the dry docking facility would amount to about QR500mn.