Doha: A month ago our sister site, GulfShip News, reported figures from VesselsValue.com showing clearly that Qatar was by some distance the Middle Eastern nation with the highest valued merchant fleet, thanks in large part to Nakilat, one of the world’s top names in LNG shipping. The Nakilat fleet is worth some $7.02bn, according to VesselsValue.com, and market movements suggest that value is set to jump with a raft of new orders in the offing. For instance, at the end of January Nakilat fixed a $669m facility with Qatar National Bank for the refinancing of two existing LNG vessels and the purchase of two additional ones by its joint venture with Greece’s Angelicoussis Group, Maran Nakilat.
Nakilat managing director Abdullah Fadhalah Al Sulaiti will not be drawn on precisely what ships the company will order in our regular Friday shipowner profile, merely commenting: “We are currently studying and evaluating a number of shipping projects of varying scale and scopes.”
Nakilat is involved in the ownership of 58 LNG vessels, 25 of them wholly owned, and in the ownership and technical management of four large LPG vessels.
Al Sulaiti, who has been in the top job for three months, is not optimistic about LNG carrier freight rates for this year and next. There are more than 100 speculative LNG vessels under construction, he points out, and although the marketplace for LNG production worldwide is growing with new projects coming online and with the impact of shale gas unknown, the vessels’ delivery profile will still probably outpace production. “Some volatility in the rates could be seen in the next few years before returning to stability,” he reckons.
Nakilat runs the largest gas ships afloat, the Q-Maxes, which are 345 m long and can carry 266,000 cu m of gas. There are now 14 afloat. On whether gas ship sizes have plateaued, Al Sulaiti is circumspect, saying: “It’s difficult to say since shipping dynamics are influenced by a number of factors only one of which is the economy of scale — freight rates, flexibility and terminal acceptability.” The crude oil tanker market is an example, he says, citing the late 1970s when the ULCC mammoth vessels hit the oceans and thereafter a downward trend to the VLCC as a more common size. “Size doesn’t always continue to grow,” he points out.
As well as shipowning, Nakilat is involved in shipyards. Two Nakilat joint venture companies operate Erhama Bin Jaber Al Jalahma Shipyard in Ras Laffan in the north of Qatar: ship repair yard Nakilat-Keppel Offshore & Marine (N-KOM) and shipbuilder Nakilat Damen Shipyards Qatar (NDSQ).
“I am confident that, based on the projects we are delivering, our reliability for delivery time and high levels of quality will result in further business growth,” says Al Sulaiti.
In addition to the two VLCC-size graving docks at Erhama Bin Jaber Al Jalahma Shipyard, two floating docks are being constructed to increase the capacity of the shipyard. [07/02/14]
NEED TO KNOW: Nakilat
Qatar Gas Transport Company was founded in 2004 and listed in Doha the following year. It is among the largest gas transport companies in the world, operating the largest gas ships afloat and also is involved in LPG transportation, shipbuilding and ship repair.