Iran may soon achieve its long-held floating LNG (FLNG) ambitions, amid a flurry of reports from Iran, linking the country’s national oil company to two strategic deals in Europe.
National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC) has signed a contract with IFLNG, a joint venture between Oslo-headquartered Hemla and Iran’s Kharg Gas Refining Co. The IFLNG partners plan to deploy a 500,000 tonne a year FLNG unit to produce, liquefy, store and transfer cargoes. And that’s where the Exmar-owned Caribbean FLNG – reportedly – comes in.
Iran’s Financial Tribune is reporting that IFLNG will charter Exmar’s barge “for the first phase”. However, it also quotes NIOC managing director Ali Kardor saying that the oil firm is to sign a deal with Hemla Vantage, to order an Iran-built 500,000-tonne FLNG vessel.
Reuters quotes Exmar confirming that it is talking to Iran about fixing the barge. This afternoon, Exmar declined further comment.
Hemla emailed a brief statement to LNG World Shipping. “We can confirm that the gas contract has been signed between NIOC and IFLNG, our joint venture with Kharg Gas Refining Co of Iran,” it said. “The gas will be the basis of Iran’s first FLNG, which will produce 0.5M tonnes a year for a period of 20 years.”
Antwerp-headquartered Exmar took delivery of the 16,000 mᶾ barge Caribbean FLNG from China’s Wison Offshore & Marine shipyard in July. It ordered the vessel against a charter to Pacific Exploration & Production (PEP), to produce 500,000 tonnes of LNG a year from gas reserves off Colombia.
However, PEP cancelled the project due to low oil and gas prices. It ‘terminated’ the Exmar charter deal last March. Exmar has been seeking to fix the vessel ever since, persistent reports linking the world’s smallest FLNG vessel to Iran’s export ambitions.
Iranian news agency Shana said Caribbean FLNG will dock at Pars Service Port in the Iranian port of Asaluyeh. VesselsValue data positions the barge in the North Sea, northeast of the German island of Borkum, destination unknown.
Hemla founder Gerhard Ludvigsen was talking to Iran’s Kharg Petrochemical Co (KPC) last year about a US$600M deal to produce 500,000 tonnes of LNG and 200,000 tonnes of LPG. Hemla was seeking debt finance to set up a 50/50 equity partnership with KPC.
In July, NIOC signed a deal with Total of France to unlock its South Pars gas reserves. The South Pars phase II consortium plans to invest US$5Bn in pipelines and offshore and onshore infrastructure.