SOURCE: Golar LNG

August 27, 2010 03:09 ET

Golar LNG: Interim Results for the Period Ended June 30, 2010

HAMILTON, BERMUDA--(Marketwire - August 27, 2010) -


Highlights


· Golar LNG reports a consolidated net loss of $5.7 million and consolidated operating income of $13.0 million

· Weak spot LNG shipping market during Q2 but recent tightening

· Golar Freeze FSRU delivered under its time charter and refinanced with a new $125 million debt facility

· Golar Commodities progressing well toward becoming fully operational and in August executed their first trade

· Golar LNG Energy short listed for West Java FSRU bid

· Golar announces a cash dividend increase to $0.15 per share plus a stock dividend of Golar LNG Energy shares

Financial Review

Golar LNG Limited ("Golar" or the "Company") reports a consolidated net loss of $5.7 million and consolidated operating income of $13.0 million for the three months ended June 30, 2010 (the "second quarter").

Revenues in the second quarter increased to $55.7 million as compared to $53.3 million for the first quarter of 2010 (the "first quarter"). The improvement is due to revenue from the Golar Freeze charter for part of the quarter partly offset by a slightly weaker performance from Golar LNG Energy's ("Golar Energy") vessels operating in the spot market. As a result, overall utilisation for the second quarter was slightly down at 62% compared to 65% for the first quarter whilst second quarter average daily time charter equivalents ("TCEs") increased slightly to $47,332 compared to a first quarter TCE of $47,084.

Voyage expenses and operating expenses were lower than the first quarter by a combined $1.5 million whilst administrative expenses were higher by $1.1 million.

Net interest expense for the second quarter at $10.5 million was up from $9.7 million in the first quarter due to a small increase in LIBOR and slightly higher average debt levels as a result of the new Golar Freeze debt facility.

Other financial items have increased to a loss of $8.0 million for the second quarter from a loss of $4.9 million in the first quarter. The increase is largely as a result of increased losses on the mark-to-market valuation of interest rate swaps due to the reduction in longer term interest rates.

The net gain on sale of investee of $0.7 million represents the sale of 2.8 million LNG Limited shares for a total consideration of $1.4 million. The Company reports operating revenues of $109.0 million, operating income of $23.7 million and a net loss of $8.5 million for the six months ended June 30, 2010. This compares to operating revenues of $100.7 million, operating income of $8.6 million and a net income of $6.8 million for the six months ended June 30, 2009.

Financing, corporate and other matters

As previously announced, Golar completed the refinancing of Golar Freeze on June 18, 2010. A syndicate of three banks together with the Norwegian Export Credit Agency (Exportfinans ASA and GEIK) provided a $125 million debt facility. At the same time Golar exercised its option to transfer the Golar Freeze from Golar LNG Energy.

During the quarter Golar Energy announced that it was establishing a new subsidiary, Golar Commodities, which would position Golar Energy in the market for managing and trading LNG cargoes. Activities will include structured services to outside customers (such as risk management services), arbitrage activities as well as proprietary trading. Since the announcement, the team has made good progress setting up operations for the new subsidiary. The team currently numbers nine, based in Tulsa Oklahoma, London and Bermuda, and offices and systems are well under way to being fully operational. Golar Commodities is in detailed discussions with financial institutions with regards to the provision of credit lines. Golar Commodities has also just recently entered into their first cargo transaction and expect to increase activity from September onwards.

The joint venture company Golar Wilhelmsen Management A.S. ("GWM"), established with Wilhelmsen Ship Management (Norway) A.S. was incorporated in May 2010. It is the intention that all Golar LNG and Golar Energy carriers and FSRU's will be managed by GWM and the process of transfer of management has progressed to the stage where actual handover of management for the first vessel took place in mid August. The management handover for the whole fleet is scheduled to be completed in September. Also during the quarter the ownership of Golar Management Ltd, the Company's in house manager and GWM joint venture partner, transferred to Golar Energy. By bringing the fleet together under one manager, Golar will have better control over and more day-to-day involvement with the technical operation of, in particular, the Company's FSRU's.

The Board has decided to propose an increased cash dividend of $0.15 per share in respect of the second quarter of 2010. The record date for the dividend is September 9, 2010, ex-dividend date is September 6, 2010 and the dividend will be paid on or about September 27, 2010.

Following the commencement of the Golar Freeze charter during the second quarter, the Company's 5 vessels on long term charter are expected to generate yearly free cash flow after debt service of approximately $1.10 per share per annum from the third quarter of 2010. It is intended that the significant majority of this free cash flow will be distributed to shareholders and therefore the level of quarterly dividends is anticipated to increase in future quarters. The Board is targeting a normalised dividend of $0.25 per share in respect of the third quarter.

The Board has also decided to propose a further Golar Energy stock dividend in respect of the second quarter. One Golar Energy share will be distributed for every 7 shares held in Golar. Dates and details for this dividend will be announced separately.

Operational Review

Shipping

The LNG shipping market during the second quarter by and large followed the format of the first quarter with too many idle vessels chasing too few cargoes for short voyages at depressed rates. However, by the quarter end, vessel availability in all markets was tightening amid new supplies and emerging smaller buyers that in aggregate, helped to absorb excess production.

Retaining some LNG onboard after discharge (heel), at relatively low cost in comparison with fuel oil prices, became important as vessels repositioned speculatively to active supply locations in order to remain cold (i.e. ready to accept LNG) and seek charter opportunities and to mitigate against high positioning costs.

Looking forward, indications for the third and fourth quarters of 2010 are that the current LNG over supply will continue with more cargoes entering the market faster than can be absorbed in the short to medium term. This is likely to result in a larger spot market with newer entrants becoming more active. With more market liquidity there is an increased possibility of traders taking new logistical positions such as short and medium term charters as well as regasification capacity.

Market sentiment for ship utilisation is firming with recent cargoes unable to find tonnage to market and charterers becoming more likely to exercise options to extend the capacity they currently hold. Consequently rates are likely to move up although lower than expected gas prices in some markets may place a cap on what could otherwise be large rate hikes relative to recent levels. Spot requirements continue to surface both East and West of Suez and this looks likely to continue to the year end.

Currently all Golar spot market vessels are employed with the earliest redeliveries likely to be towards the end of the third quarter.

The current global fleet stands at 358 vessels, (including regas and lay-up vessels) and there are 28 vessels on order.

Regasification

A steady stream of new enquiries for floating storage and regasification projects continues. Every quarter sees Golar's development team contacted about new projects. Numerous projects are also starting to appear more concrete with project developers achieving new milestones. Some of the more notable recent developments include:

· Indonesia (West Java): Golar is one of three parties remaining in the tender process. The final evaluation of commercial bids is underway with an expectation of a final award decision in the near future.

· Indonesia (Sumatra): The project reportedly reached a positive project milestone with the appointment of Foster Wheeler as the Project Manager ("PMC"). The project appears on track for a Q4 2010 tender.

* Uruguay: Foster Wheeler Iberia has progressed significantly on their study to define the tender scope. There are indications this tender may be launched in Q4 2010.

In addition to projects more widely reported in the market, numerous other opportunities are being worked by the Golar team. In this regard, Golar remains very optimistic that the market for FSRUs will only grow and that the Company is well positioned to take advantage of that growth.

The Golar Freeze FSRU was delivered under its 10 year time charter to Dubai Supply Authority ("DUSUP"), and was on hire commencing May 16, 2010. The shore side gas reception installations are expected to be completed by the beginning of October and the commissioning and testing of the vessel is scheduled to commence shortly thereafter.

Market

Earlier in the second quarter supply side underperformance was still the biggest factor in limiting LNG to European markets. Production shortfalls in a number of locations and start-up problems in others, removed approximately 15.5 mt/yr from the supply chain. Nigerian and Norwegian supplies have subsequently recovered, although a shortage of feedstock gas continues to limit output from Damietta in Egypt.

Sharply rising supply volumes of LNG worldwide and the surge in North American gas production combined with a global recession significantly reducing worldwide gas demand, has created a global oversupply of gas. By early May U.S. markets were "swimming" in gas even with U.S. industrial demand showing signs of recovery. Non U.S. markets showed a high capacity to absorb additional volumes as summer peaking markets became a growing force for market balance and a counter to the lack of cargoes entering the U.S. due to price disadvantage against other markets. Mexico's Costa Azul, Kuwait, Brazil, Chile and Argentina all received cargoes.

European market pricing has been volatile, driven by a cool spring as well as field and infrastructure maintenance. Even in summer, when demand is approximately 50% of winter peak, European markets have traded through wide ranges and have been the preferred location after Asian demand is met. The UK saw unusually high gas demand over summer with much of this increase being met through LNG imports.

Asian Markets were also 'heating-up' towards the end of the quarter and buyers continue to seek cargoes for October and November deliveries although signs are that Japanese buyers may be holding off in expectation that a falling NBP may reduce Asian prices. Other major buyers were CPC and CNOOC. Kogas and CPC are both reportedly looking for a number of winter cargoes. Imports across Asia in the first 6 months of the year were running 16% up on the 1(st) six months of 2009.

Outlook

The over-supply of LNG has been maintained during the quarter and may increase further with additional LNG trains coming on stream later this year and early next. However, as the world recovers from recession gas demand will increase. Additionally there are potential major cost savings available for power companies by switching fuels from oil to gas and with the added environmental benefits and significant gas reserves worldwide increasing gas demand is likely to continue. This leads to increased transportation demand and the need for cost effective solutions for importing natural gas.

The winter market is approaching and we have over the last month seen that the market has strengthened. Given steadily increasing LNG supply and demand and the fact that by the end of the year the LNG carrier order book will stand at only approximately 3% of the total fleet, the Board believes that we will see an improved shipping market over the next 12-18 months as compared to the previous 12 months.

In order to cope with the increase in consumption and proliferation of LNG there will need to be further development of the logistics to deliver it to markets and Golar Energy is therefore highly focused on continuing to develop new LNG midstream solutions for its customers. The Company's Moss type tankers are particularly well suited for these projects both from a quality and cost point of view.

New floating regasification opportunities are coming to the surface every month and although it takes time to develop such projects, some of them will in time come to fruition. Based on feedback from some of the projects Golar Energy is involved in the Company believes it is extremely competitive in the market and the Board believes that Golar Energy is well positioned to secure new contracts.

The Golar Commodities trading team is in place and as noted above has transacted their first cargo trade. The Company believes that the timing for setting up the entity is optimal in terms the development of LNG trading. There are also clear synergies between the trading division and the shipping and project development side of the business which Golar expects to take advantage of.

Operating results for the third quarter of 2010 will be positively impacted by an improving market for the Company's vessels operating in the spot market. The Company is also optimistic about the potential for Golar Commodities. All five of Golar's long-term contracted vessels are now delivered under their time charters and the Golar Freeze, delivered during the second quarter, will make a full quarter's contribution during the third quarter. Cash flow from these five contracts will therefore increase during the third quarter and support an increased dividend moving forward.

Forward Looking Statements

This press release contains forward looking statements. These statements are based upon various assumptions, many of which are based, in turn, upon further assumptions, including examination of historical operating trends made by the management of Golar LNG. Although Golar LNG believes that these assumptions were reasonable when made, because assumptions are inherently subject to significant uncertainties and contingencies, which are difficult or impossible to predict and are beyond its control, Golar LNG cannot give assurance that it will achieve or accomplish these expectations, beliefs or intentions.

Included among the factors that, in the Company's view, could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward looking statements contained in this press release are the following: inability of the Company to obtain financing for the new building vessels at all or on favourable terms; changes in demand; a material decline or prolonged weakness in rates for LNG carriers; political events affecting production in areas in which natural gas is produced and demand for natural gas in areas to which our vessels deliver; changes in demand for natural gas generally or in particular regions; changes in the financial stability of our major customers; adoption of new rules and regulations applicable to LNG carriers and FSRU's; actions taken by regulatory authorities that may prohibit the access of LNG carriers or FSRU's to various ports; our inability to achieve successful utilisation of our expanded fleet and inability to expand beyond the carriage of LNG; increases in costs including: crew wages, insurance, provisions, repairs and maintenance; changes in general domestic and international political conditions; the current turmoil in the global financial markets and deterioration thereof; changes in applicable maintenance or regulatory standards that could affect our anticipated dry-docking or maintenance and repair costs; our ability to timely complete our FSRU conversions; failure of shipyards to comply with delivery schedules on a timely basis and other factors listed from time to time in registration statements and reports that we have filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our Registration Statement on Form 20- F and subsequent announcements and reports. Nothing contained in this press release shall constitute an offer of any securities for sale.

August 26, 2010

The Board of Directors
Golar LNG Limited
Hamilton, Bermuda

Questions should be directed to:
Golar Management Ltd - +44 207 063 7900:
Graham Robjohns
Brian Tienzo

This information is subject of the disclosure requirements acc. to §5- 12 vphl (Norwegian Securities Trading Act)


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Golar LNG Limited Q2 2010 Interim Results:

http://hugin.info/133076/R/1440916/385265.pdf




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Source: Golar LNG via Thomson Reuters ONE

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