Sovcomflot strengthens its position in offshore drilling
RUSSIA"S energy shipping giant Sovcomflot has positioned itself to play a leading role in the provision of dozens of tankers and gas carriers for compatriot Gazprom"s Arctic oil and gas projects.
A partnership with the Gazprom could also extend Sovcomflot"s influence into the offshore drilling sector.
Sovcomflot has signed a co-operation pact with Gazflot, Gazprom"s wholly-owned shipping arm, relating to the transportation needs of the Russian gas giant"s current and future offshore projects.
Under the agreement, signed by Sovcomflot president and chief executive Sergey Frank and Gazflot general director Yury Shamalov, the partners will ?work closely to develop logistical solutions for the transportation of oil and gas in the Arctic region?.
Sovcomflot said it would also ?assist Gazflot in procuring offshore drilling and production equipment and tonnage?.
The agreement strengthens an existing commercial bond between Sovcomflot and Gazprom and should enhance the shipping company"s chances of participating in projects such as the huge Shtokman development in the Barents Sea, which will embrace one of the world"s most challenging liquefied natural gas projects.
One report sourced from a Russian shipyard has suggested Gazprom could be seeking up to 20 LNG carriers to service the Shtokman project.
The report indicated the vessels could be in the range of 155,000 cu m-175,000 cu m which would would probably involve shipbuilding expenditure of $5bn.
Sovcomflot is already providing LNG carriers for the Sakhalin II project, in which Gazprom is now the majority shareholder. The 145,000 cu m Grand Elena and Grand Aniva were ordered by Sovcomflot in partnership with Japan"s NYK.
On the pact with Gazflot, Mr Frank commented: ?The scale and magnitude of Gazprom"s offshore development programme is significant.
?It requires close co-ordination amongst all the parties involved ? in this respect, we welcome this agreement with Gazflot and we are sure that it will bring effective solutions.?
Sovcomflot has been targeting Arctic operations through other partnerships.
Just over a year ago the shipping company agreed to team up with Rosneft in the technical management of the oil company"s offshore, terminal and shipping activities.
Rosneft, one of the largest Russian oil and energy companies, has a considerable portfolio of offshore projects in the Arctic and the Far East that ?require complex midstream solutions?.
In 2007 Mr Frank and Murmansk governor Yuriy Evdokimov signed a co-operation agreement providing more active positioning of Sovcomflot in the region, with a view to providing logistical support for energy projects in the Arctic offshore.
Sovcomflot, which recently acquired Russian rival Novoship, has a fleet of 124 vessels totalling 8.7m dwt, and a newbuilding order book of 31 vessels aggregating 2.8m dwt.
The company also said its 2007 revenues, excluding Novoship, grew 23% to $628.1m from $510.7m in the previous year. Net profit advanced 30% to $232.7m from $179.1m.
Sovcomflot said it would announce consolidated accounts for 2007, including Novoship, at the beginning of April. Consolidated annual revenue for the year was expected to exceed $1.2bn.
Source: Tony Gray - Lloyd's List