The Schulte Group has been cleared by the German Federal Cartel Office to complete its planned acquisition of PRONAV and its fleet of six managed LNG carriers.
The six vessels, all under long-term charters to Qatargas, are Al Ghariya, Al Ruwais, Al Safliya, Duhail, Milaha Qatar and Milaha Ras Laffan. The first four are Q-flex size vessels of 210,000 m3.
The sextet will strengthen the Schulte Group’s already impressive presence in the LNG sector. Schulte and its third-party Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) division have managed LNG carriers for 50 years.
At present, BSM provides full management for three LNGCs and crew management for 21 LNGCs. Five 174,000 m3 LNGCs and one 7,500 m3 LNG bunker vessel (LNGBV) are currently under construction and set to join the fleet in 2018 and 2019. These newbuildings and the PRONAV ships will boost the number of BSM’s fully managed LNGCs to 15.
The 7,500 m3 LNGBV, currently being built by Korea’s Hyundai Mipo Dockyard (HMD) and due for delivery in September 2018, will be a particularly notable addition to the fleet. Owned by Babcock Schulte Energy (BSE), a Bernhard Schulte/Babcock International joint venture, the vessel incorporates many distinctive features.
The LNGBV will store vaporised LNG, generated during ship-to-ship (STS) transfers and returned from the receiving vessel, in a compressed natural gas tank for use as fuel in its dual-fuel propulsion system. Also, by using trim tanks with passivated water only, the LNGBV design obviates the need for a ballast water treatment system. An STS transfer rate of up to 1,250 m3/hour is another of its capabilities.
BSE anticipates repeat orders for its LNGBV design as the demand for LNG as marine fuel increases. The initial HMD bunker vessel will be based in the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda and chartered by Blue LNG, a Nauticor/Klaipedos Nafta joint venture.
The LNGBV is not Schulte’s only foray into LNGC ownership. In 2014 the group took a stake in a 174,000 m³ ship currently under construction at Samsung Heavy Industries in South Korea.
On delivery at the end of 2018, it will be time chartered for a minimum of 15 years to Mitsui & Co for the carriage of LNG from the Cameron export project in the US Gulf. The newbuilding is one of the LNGCs to be fully managed by BSM.