13.04.2008 - Qatari gas tie-up

Qatar Shipping (Q-Ship) is giving up half its ownership in a quartet of LPG newbuildings to a compatriot.

The Doha-listed owner signed over a 50% stake in the four 82,000-cbm units to Qatar Gas Transport Co (Nakilat) with the establishment of a joint venture. Q-Ship will hold on to the remaining 50% cut.

Q-Ship ordered the vessels at Hyundai Heavy Industries in May 2005 for $385m en bloc. Three will be delivered this year - in May, August and December – with the fourth to follow in March 2009.

It is seen as significant that Q-Ship has handed over 50% control of the newbuildings to a local player when international gas shipping companies were thought to have an interest.

Nobody could be reached for comment at Doha-based Q-Ship on Monday.

“The process of setting up a joint venture company between Nakilat and Qatar Shipping Company is on and expected to be completed this year,” a short announcement to the Doha bourse on Monday read.

The news had positive repercussions for both owners as Nakilat’s share price rose QAR 0.80 ($0.22) to QAR 34.70 a piece while Q-Ship saw its shares hit QAR 64.00 each, a rise of QAR 0.40 on Monday.

When Q-Ship ordered the VLGCs in 2005 it tripled its LPG fleet. The company still has a pair of 23,051-cbm units both built in 2004. It also operates two 37,300-dwt chemical tankers, three 106,100-dwt product tankers and an anchor-handling tug.

Eoin O'Cinneide, Tradewinds

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