Argentina’s state-owned oil and gas company Enarsa wants to charter the country’s third floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) to support the Puerto Rosales project near Bahia Blanca, south of Buenos Aires.
Enarsa is said to be looking for a large FSRU, equivalent in size to a Q-max or Q-flex LNG carrier, that can receive deliveries from vessels of this size and can process 17 million m³/day. Enarsa plans to reach a final investment decision (FID) on the Puerta Rosales project next month and to choose an FSRU provider in March, to receive its first cargoes in summer 2018.
All the established FSRU owners are tipped to bid for the project. Excelerate Energy, Golar LNG, Höegh LNG and BW LNG are in the frame, along with FSRU newcomers GasLog and Marubeni.
Argentina’s two existing FSRUs are Excelerate vessels, both chartered to YPF. The 150,900m³ Exemplar is based at Bahia Blanca GasPort and the 150,900m³ Expedient is fixed to GNL Escobar.
Only one shipowner has an FSRU of a size that meets the brief.
Mitsui OSK (MOL) is building a 263,000m³ FSRU that it hopes to place in Uruguay, on charter to Gas Sayago, with which it agreed a new charterparty deal last year. Newbuilding Hull 2419 can regasify up to 4 million tonnes a year.
Hull 2419 was due to replace Engie’s 145,130m³ GDF Suez Neptune, which arrived in Turkey at the end of last year to start a new contract with a subsidiary of construction giant Kolin.
Project costs have spiralled and MOL is now waiting for Montevideo to give the venture the go-ahead, even as it prepares to take delivery of the newbuilding this summer.
MOL director and senior managing executive officer Takeshi Hashimoto told LNG World Shipping this week that the company now hopes to fix the newbuilding for a year on a temporary contract.
“Our FSRU will be completed by the middle of this year,” Mr Hashimoto said. “Expecting that Uruguay will be ready to accept an FSRU in mid or late 2018, we would like to find some opportunity for about one year.
“Regarding Argentina, we are interested but have not yet decided [whether or not] to join the bidding process.”
Timing-wise, the Enarsa tender seems a stretch for MOL, going live a little too late for the company to employ its newbuilding to best advantage – bar new delays or setbacks in Uruguay.
If Enarsa does look elsewhere, it will be fascinating to see which FSRU owner can deliver a vessel of the size – and to the deadline – that Enarsa has set. One option could be to supply a standard-sized vessel temporarily, while negotiating to buy and convert or build from scratch a Q-flex or Q-max-sized FSRU.
Meanwhile, any importer needing a large FSRU newbuilding at short notice should give MOL a call.