A key link in Qatar’s LNG supply chain, Nakilat is looking to boost its ship management capabilities, having recently entered the exclusive FSRU-ownership club
Qatari-owned shipping and maritime services company Nakilat remains the essential transportation link in Qatar’s LNG supply chain. Established in 2004, Nakilat was listed on the Qatar Stock Exchange and took its first LNG ship delivery the following year. From thereon, the company followed through on its long-term business strategy to establish itself at the forefront of the energy transportation sector.
Capitalising on Qatar’s abundant natural gas resources, Nakilat grew, adding ship management capabilities and driven by its vision to become a globally leading shipping and maritime services company.
Nakilat first started ship management in early 2012 with four very large gas carriers (VLGCs) and later four Q-Flex LNG carriers. As of August 2017, Nakilat had wrapped up the first phase of its fleet management transition, switching 10 LNG carriers from Shell to its ship management arm, Nakilat Shipping Qatar Limited (NSQL) in Doha. At the time, it was seen as one of the world’s largest management transitions of LNG carriers and was carried out within just 10 months.
In 2018 Nakilat further refined its business focus and strengthened its international portfolio by expanding its joint venture partnership with Greece-based Maran Gas, to include two additional LNG vessels. The agreement increased the number of vessels jointly owned by Nakilat and the John Angelicoussis-led Maran Gas from 13 to 15 vessels. The two newly added vessels, Woodside Rogers and Woodside Goode, both built by South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co, are under long-term charter, and equipped with dual fuel diesel-electric (DFDE) propulsion and have a capacity of 159,800 m3 each.
Commenting on the company’s growth strategy, chief executive Eng. Abdullah Al Sulaiti said: “Strategic alliances with renowned partners have been fundamental to our success, and we always look for opportunities to grow our international presence and maximise returns for our shareholders.”
Last year, Nakilat marked an historical milestone by signing an agreement with Houston-based Excelerate Energy, to acquire a 55% interest in a floating storage regasification unit (FSRU) Exquisite, the first such unit to join its fleet. This is the first FSRU co-owned by a Qatari company and paves the way for Qatari LNG to expand its outreach into developing and emerging markets.
Earlier this year, Exquisite achieved another milestone, completing the 200th ship-to-ship transfer of LNG at the Engro Elengy terminal (EETL) in Pakistan’s Port Qasim.
“Last year, Nakilat marked an historical milestone by signing an agreement with Excelerate Energy to acquire a 55% interest in the FSRU Exquisite”
Nakilat continues to play a vital role in connecting the global LNG export market, with the world’s largest fleet of LNG carriers, 65 in all, as well as four large LPG carriers and the aforementioned FSRU Exquisite. Nakilat’s LNG carrier fleet has 20 conventional LNGCs, ranging in capacities from 145,000-170,000 m3, 31 Q-Flex LNGCs (210,000-217,000 m3) and 14 Q-Max LNGCs (263,000-266,000 m3). Nakilat’s LNG fleet has a combined carrying capacity of over 9M m3, which is about 12% of the global LNG fleet carrying capacity.
Its in-house shipping management subsidiary Nakilat Shipping Qatar Limited (NSQL) currently operates 18 vessels, comprising 14 LNG carriers and four LPG carriers.
Nakilat's Q-Max LNG carrier Mozah has 80% more cargo carrying capacity than conventional LNGCs
Safety enhancement, vessel reliability and cost optimisation continue to be the main drivers in managing Nakilat’s vessels. The company’s main operational focus between late-2017 up to 2019 has been to safely and successfully complete all its vessels’ second special survey dry dockings, which is a requirement when vessels approach 10 years of age. For this reason, it has not taken more vessels under its ship management wing while this cycle is underway.
Nakilat achieved a “five-star” grading following its recent Five-Star Occupational Health and Safety Audit, conducted by the British Safety Council (BSC). This is the second consecutive year that Nakilat has received the “five-star” grading, which is the highest available rating that can be achieved in the audit.
The British Safety Council’s Five-Star Occupational Health and Safety Audit assesses organisations’ safety management system (SMS) against a worldwide benchmark of current best practices. Nakilat underwent a detailed, quantified and objective evaluation of its occupational health and SMS, and had its performance measured against a number of key best practice indicators. The audit specification includes the five best practice indicators of leadership, stakeholder engagement, risk management, organisational health and safety culture and continual improvement.
In December 2018, Nakilat received the “Sword of Honour” Award by the British Safety Council, following its achievement of gaining a maximum five-star grading.
Mr Al Sulaiti said: “At Nakilat safety is a core value and is the cornerstone of our operations. We are deeply committed to providing shipping and maritime services in a safe, reliable and efficient manner. We all are proud of the company’s safety initiatives, which place great emphasis on occupational health and safety, employee wellbeing, and enhances our safety culture."
Expanding in-house crew administration
Aligned with the company’s long-term growth objectives, Nakilat will be expanding its in-house crew administration to attain greater autonomy in its operations and closer management of its seafarers. This will support the company’s efforts to strengthen its in-house capabilities and its technical know-how, and also contribute towards the development of a sustainable workforce, according to the company.
Nakilat is also modernising its systems, with the aim of enhancing its human capital capacity and competency, in preparation for the next phase of its LNG ship management expansion.
The next round of vessel transitions is scheduled to commence in 2020, with several wholly-owned LNG vessels being transitioned from Shell International Trading and Shipping Company Ltd. (STASCO), to NSQL.
Following the acquisition of Exquisite, Nakilat plans to take over full ship management responsibility of the vessel from the current operator in 2020. This will require NSQL to complement its skill base with additional knowledge and competencies to strengthen the company’s positioning in this fast-developing, niche segment of the LNG industry.
In addition, earlier this year Nakilat struck a deal with US-based McDermott to form a joint venture company, providing offshore and onshore fabrication services in Qatar. The strategic partnership aims to increase productivity levels at Nakilat’s Erhama Bin Jaber Al Jalahma Shipyard and develop local construction capabilities to support the increasing demand for the construction of offshore and onshore structures in Qatar.
The establishment of the joint venture is aligned with Qatar’s newly launched localisation programme, which is designed to enhance the resilience of the energy sector’s supply chain.
The joint venture between Nakilat and McDermott coincides with Qatar’s ambitions to localise its energy sector’s supply chain and increase its LNG production from 77 to 110 mta in the coming years. The joint venture will be operated from Nakilat’s shipyard in Ras Laffan Industrial City.