Russian shipowner Sovcomflot has marked its tenth anniversary as an independent gas-carrier operator by posting a hike in earnings for its gas-transport business and ordering a series of LNG-fuelled tankers.
Announcing its full-year results for 2016, Sovcomflot has reported a 2.3 per cent increase in annual time charter equivalent earnings for its gas carriers to US$140.6 million, up from US$137.5 million in 2015.
Sovcomflot expanded from its base in tankers and offshore support ships into gas-carrier operations in November 2006. It operates a fleet of eight LNG carriers and four LPG carriers, chartered to Gazprom Marketing & Trading, Sakhalin Energy, Shell, Tangguh LNG and others.
Reports from South Korea suggest that Sovcomflot has placed a US$240 million order for four ice-class, LNG-powered aframax tankers with Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries in South Korea. Sovcomflot will take delivery of the 114,000 dwt vessels from late next year to early 2019 and will charter them to Shell to ship Russian crude.
Reports suggest the LNG-fuelled vessels will cost US$10.5 million more than conventional aframax tankers. LNG World Shipping has invited the company to comment. Sovcomflot has so far declined to discuss the order.
The shipowner has also just completed Arctic sea trials on the world’s first ice-class LNG carrier, the 172,600m³ Christophe de Margerie. The world’s most powerful LNG carrier will deliver cargoes loaded year-round in Arctic waters from Russia’s Yamal LNG project.