Golar LNG Buys More Ships for $400 Million as Demand Gains

Feb. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Golar LNG Ltd., the owner of liquefied natural gas carriers led by billionaire John Fredriksen, will buy two further vessels for more than $400 million as demand for the fuel strengthens.

The ships will arrive in 2014’s second quarter and early 2015, Hamilton, Bermuda-based Golar said in a statement today. The order from Samsung Heavy Industries Co. includes an option to buy two more. The company said Feb. 14 it would buy two of the carriers from Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries Co. for more than $400 million for delivery in the second half of 2014.

Golar now has 13 vessels on order and options to build four more, according to the statement. Demand for LNG carriers will expand 12 percent this year, more than the fleet’s growth of 2.5 percent, RS Platou Markets AS said in a report Feb. 7. Rates for the ships will rise to $140,000 a day, the Oslo-based investment bank estimates.

“Golar has the biggest newbuild program in the industry, a sign we take as the company’s strong view on the market,” Erik Nikolai Stavseth, an analyst at Arctic Securities ASA in Oslo, said in an e-mailed note today. “Given that the vessels are delivered through 2013-15, we think Golar is seeing not only near-term strength, but a long-term change in the LNG market.”

Golar rose 0.8 percent to 251.5 kroner by the 5:30 p.m. in Oslo trading today, giving the company a market value of 20.1 billion kroner ($3.6 billion). The shares more than doubled in the past year. The company’s net income will jump to $193.7 million this year from $46.7 million in 2011, according to the median of 12 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Isaac Arnsdorf in London at iarnsdorf@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alaric Nightingale at anightingal1@bloomberg.net