Golar LNG
oslo : GOL

February 21, 2012 03:10 ET

Golar LNG: Preliminary Fourth Quarter and Financial Year 2011 Results

HAMILTON, BERMUDA--(Marketwire - Feb 21, 2012) -

Highlights

· Golar LNG reports consolidated net income of $17.2 million and consolidated operating income of $33.8 million for the fourth quarter of 2011

· Golar LNG announces an increased quarterly cash dividend of $0.325 cents per share

· Golar Arctic entered into a three year charter with annualized EBITDA contribution of $45.0 million

· Golar announces firm contracts for two additional LNG carriers with Hyundai

· Hilli is taken out of lay-up and reactivation project is underway

· Golar purchases remaining 50% interest in Gandria and proceeds with re-activating the vessel

· First dropdown into Golar LNG Partners successfully completed with the sale of the Golar Freeze

· LNG shipping market tightening. Spot rates increased from $110,000/day to $135,000/day by the end of the quarter


Financial Review

Golar LNG Limited ("Golar" or the "Company") reports consolidated net profit of $17.2 million and consolidated operating income of $33.8 million for the three months ended December 31, 2011 (the "fourth quarter").

Revenues in the fourth quarter were $80.6 million as compared to $77.8 million for the third quarter of 2011 (the "third quarter"). The increase is primarily as a result of the additional revenue contribution from Gimi which was in charter throughout the quarter. Vessel utilisation in the fourth quarter also improved slightly to 100% as compared to 99% for the third quarter. Average daily time charter equivalent rates ("TCEs") for the fourth quarter at $86,521 per day has decreased from the third quarter which was at $91,614 per day. This is mainly due to the dilutive effect of Gimi's charter rate.

Operating cost in the fourth quarter at $17.6 million is higher than third quarter at $15.0 million. This is mainly due to the Gimi's re-activation cost of $3.5 million offset slightly by a reduction in costs on the remaining vessels.

Net interest expense for the fourth quarter at $5.6 million is slightly higher from $4.9 million in the third quarter due to a slight increase in USD LIBOR which impacted the floating debt portion of the Company's debt portfolio.

Other financial items have decreased to a loss of $0.05 million for the fourth quarter compared to a loss of $20.0 million in the third quarter. This is mainly due to the reversal of mark-to-market losses seen in the last quarter as a result of a slight increase in medium to long-term swap rates by the end of the fourth quarter.

The Company reports operating revenues of $299.9 million, operating income of $121.0 million and a net income of $46.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2011. This compares to operating revenues of $244.0 million, operating income of $60.2 million and a net income of $0.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2010.

Financing, corporate and other matters

Dividends

The Board has proposed an increased quarterly cash dividend of $0.325 per share in respect of the fourth quarter 2011 results. This further supports the Board's positive outlook of the Company's ability to take advantage of the rapid positive developments in the LNG markets. The record date for the dividend is March 11, 2012, ex-dividend date is March 7, 2012 and the dividend will be paid on or about March 21, 2012.

Golar Arctic charter

The Company announced on January 13, 2012 that it has succesfully secured a three year charter for the Golar Arctic with a major Japanese trading company. The charter will commence and influence earnings positively from second quarter 2012, when the vessel is expected to contribute approximately $45 million in annualized EBITDA.

Newbuildings

The Company announced on February 14, 2012 that it has entered into firm contracts with Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. ("Hyundai") for two LNG carriers to be delivered in the third and fourth quarter of 2014. The aggregate price for the two ships is approximately $400 million. As with Golar's existing newbuilding orders, the vessels will be delivered with tri-fuel diesel electric engines and with the lowest boil-off rate amongst LNG carriers. The firm contracts also come with fixed price options for another two LNG carriers.

The delivery dates and price achieved for these newbuildings make them a very attractive addition to Golar's newbuilding programme. Including these two contracts, Golar now has nine LNG carriers and two FSRUs on order. Five of these will be delivered in 2013 starting from August of that year, with the rest being delivered in 2014. Along with its two open positions of modern carriers, Golar is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the LNG market in the periods 2012 to 2014 when the global expectation is very positive for LNG shipping. Furthermore, the development in the Company's newbuilding programme confirms Golar's commitment to be the world's leading independent LNG shipping company.

Hilli

Following the successful re-activation of Gimi which has had one hundred percent utilization since its immediate placement into a high-quality charter, the Board has decided to re-activate Hilli. The vessel had been in lay-up in Labuan since April 2008. The Company expects the vessel to start generating income from second quarter 2012. The cost of re-activation will be approximately $20 million.

Gandria

The Company announced on January 23, 2012 that it had secured the remaining fifty percent (50%) interest in the company that owns the Gandria. The Company agreed a price of $19.5 million to own the title of the vessel outright. The Company is happy with the agreed price considering the demand for similar vessels during a very tight time of tonnage availability. Subsequent to its purchase the vessel is now in Singapore for a re-activation process. Re- activation cost is expected to be significantly lower than Gimi and Hilli. The Company expects the vessel to be contributing to revenue from second quarter 2012.

Golar Freeze sale to Golar LNG Partners L.P

The fourth quarter saw the first dropdown of an asset from the Company to Golar LNG Partners L.P ("Golar Partners"). The Freeze was sold for $330 million to Golar Partners which completed the acquisition by assuming the $108 million of outstanding senior bank debt on the FSRU and $222 million of vendor financing provided by Golar. The loan from the Company to Golar Partners has a term of three years and a fixed interest rate of 6.75%.

Financing

In April 2011, the Company entered into a new $80 million unsecured revolving credit facility with a company related to its major shareholder, World Shipholding. This facility has now been extended to $250 million and will be used to part finance the Company's newbuilding instalments. The facility bears interest at LIBOR plus 3.5% together with a commitment fee of 0.75% of any undrawn portion of the credit facility. As of 31 January, 2012, the amount drawn down from the facility is $145 million. No arrangement fee has been paid for the extension of the facility.

Shares and options

During the quarter a total of 91,395 Golar LNG options were exercised. In connection with this, the Company issued 91,395 new shares. The total number of remaining Golar LNG options is 848,904. The total number of shares outstanding in Golar excluding options is 80,236,252.

Shipping

During the quarter, strong demand for both First Generation and modern LNG carriers surfaced. Demand for multi-year shipping requirements continued to be driven by high demand for LNG, liquefaction projects due to increased exports; and fleet renewals. On the back of strong underlying sentiments, existing tonnage continued to be secured well in advance of scheduled redeliveries from existing Charterers and in advance of Charterers actual need. Owners of modern tonnage with structural availability in 2012-13 have shown preference to secure a minimum period of 3 years at historically high rates. While the pool of existing modern tonnage available for multi-year periods dwindled further during this quarter, small windows of vessel availability existed in the form of backhaul and short intra-regional voyage opportunities. In the absence of suitable modern tonnage, Charterers secured First Generation tonnage for periods of between 12-24 months as a bridging solution to their longer term structural shipping needs. As many as 11 fixtures, basis First Generation vessels, were secured for multi month charters in the fourth quarter. By the end of the quarter, the structural availability of First Generation vessels had tightened significantly.

During this quarter and driven by the sustained West-East arbitrage, charter rates rose sharply from around $110,000 per day, on a round trip basis for modern steam vessels to $135,000 per day by the end of the quarter. In addition, the high interest in First Generation tonnage saw rates climb in excess of $70,000 per day. With anticipated structural tightness during 2012-2014, Owners continue to have little interest in offering existing modern tonnage for less than a 3 year charter at rates in excess of $130,000 per day. Given the tightness in the market, Owners continue to retain the ability to be selective in which requirements to work (nature/period of commitment and nature of the Charterer).

Backwardation has weakened in the LNG shipping charter market. The Company believes that this curve has flattened somewhat, particularly for 3 to 7 year charter periods, as the major players realise the underlying strength of existing shipping demand.

The worldwide LNG fleet currently stands at 367 vessels including FSRUs, with a further 69 on order; 60 vessels have been ordered since January 1, 2011. Today, there is very limited shipyard capacity available before the last quarter of 2014 and diminishing availability for 2015.

In the period 2014 to 2015, substantial new LNG supply is anticipated from Australia and the Middle East, which will require significant and as yet unsecured additional shipping capacity. Additional shipping capacity will also be needed to support the development of new liquefaction capacity, as well as the growing short term / spot LNG trading business (which accounts for, on average, between 18-22% of the overall LNG trade). The development of potential U.S. LNG export capacity will further increase the demand for tonnage. The demand for LNG shipping is also positively affected by the debottlenecking of existing liquefaction facilities, which gives rise to additional LNG production.

Golar currently has three existing first generation vessels, four existing modern vessels and nine newbuilding LNG carriers available for employment over the next three years. With fundamental evidence of a structural deficit in the supply of LNG carriers in this same time period, the Board believes that the Company is advantageously positioned to lock in solid long term returns. Golar's new vessels will be delivered with historically low boil off rates and will have in all material respects superior operating performance relative to the existing fleet. The Company has already entered into specific discussions with regards to chartering its open tonnage and expects that, in line with what was communicated in the third quarter results report, that several of the Company's open newbuild positions will be covered in the coming months.

FSRUs

On the FSRU side of the business, the Board is disappointed that due to high rate indications the Company was unsuccessful in its recent bids. The deal flow in this sector continues to be robust and, given that the Company's portfolio has the two earliest deliveries of newbuild FSRU's out of the yards, the Board is optimistic at the prospects for continued growth. Regarding committed projects, the Board looks forward to the completion of the FSRU conversion for the Nusantara Regas Project in West Java Indonesia after which, similar to the successful Golar Freeze transaction, the vessel will be offered for sale into Golar LNG Partners.

The Company continues to bid into ongoing FSRU tenders. Golar's outlook remains positive against firm demand for new projects and recognition that it has the only two FSRU newbuildings available during the period from Sep 2013 to approximately May of 2014. The Company remains committed to this sector with increasing focus on newbuildings and delivering projects to shareholders with a view to increased returns.

The West Java FSRU project is entering its final phases of project execution. Mechanical completion of the FSRU conversion is targeted at Jurong shipyard by the end of first quarter 2012. The mooring jetty construction which is fifteen kilometres offshore Java will reach mechanical completion in February 2012. Khannur, in compliance with cabotage requirements, is now Indonesian flagged and has been renamed Nusantara Regas Satu. The vessel is in the final stages of vessel registration prior to its importation. First gas is expected during second quarter 2012.

LNG Market

Incremental LNG supplies remain available in the market, limited primarily to West African, US Gulf Coast re-export, NW Europe re-export and Middle East sources.

During this quarter, Far East demand was soft due to mild weather and oversupply for fourth quarter 2011 deliveries. Consequently, buying interest became more opportunistic as a direct result of ullage constraints in both Korea and Japan. As such, the recent over supply in the Far East for fourth quarter 2011 deliveries pushed additional deliveries out further. By the end of the year most Utilities were covered as far out as February and focusing on securing March deliveries. With anticipation of spot cargo prices falling in the first quarter 2012 and ample available supply, there was no urgency to source forward cargoes. While forward appetite for incremental supply in the Far East is expected to remain strong going into the summer period, the anticipated announcement of which Japanese nuclear reactors will be allowed to restart in 2012 will influence and determine Japanese buying interest for the second quarter of 2012 and beyond. Nuclear utilization in Japan continues to fall, and could drop to zero by spring.

While Europe remained quiet, South American markets remain active with considerable supply moving into both Argentina and Brazil, even as their peak demand season came to a close. Increased demand in South America surfaced, with a tender from Argentina resulting in Enarsa securing 3.2 million tonnes of LNG for delivery in 2012 into both Escobar and Bahia Blanca, first delivery was expected in January. Re-export opportunities out of the United States and Europe have gained ground with up to 33 cargoes re-exported in 2011.

New LNG supply projects slated to come on line in the coming quarters have been delayed. Start-up of Woodside's Pluto Train 1 is now expected in March 2012, while Angola LNG is slated to come on line towards the end of the second quarter 2012. In addition to these, supply projects under construction in both the Atlantic and Pacific Basin have reached close to 73 million tonnes, with 54 million tonnes slated to come on line by 2016. Furthermore, two projects (Sabine LNG Export / Australia Pacific LNG Train 2) are close to announcing a final investment decision, adding an additional capacity of 22.5 million tonnes to projects under construction.

This additional new production in 2012 from Pluto and Angola LNG, together with debottlenecking projects and the ramp up of the significant number of new projects that have recently started up could add up to 14 million tonnes of LNG (or approximately 5.2% of total current production) to the market by the end of 2012. In the same timeframe only 2 conventional size vessels are expected to be delivered, both dedicated to lift project volumes from Malaysia and Angola.

Outlook

The Company remains very encouraged with the robust growth outlook of the LNG industry which is now in plain sight. Albeit with minor delays inevitable, production from committed new trains and debottlenecking projects will be adding significant quantities of LNG to the market. Additional projects, notably in the United States, are nearing the point of commitment which may further increase the trend. Liquefaction capacity, excluding U.S capacity, is expected to grow by more than 15% by 2015. LNG quantities, as a percentage of total production, traded on a short term basis continue to increase. Japan's power companies and China's total LNG import increased by 39% and 30%, respectively, from 2010. All these factors are contributors to the strong forward demand for LNG shipping capacity for many years to come.

In response, the Board has taken several key steps to position the Company to capitalize on this market environment. With the recent additional newbuild orders the Company has a total of 13 modern LNG carriers including 2 FSRU's available for new chartering opportunities in the period 2012- 2014. In addition the company has several older vessels available. The Company will use the existing open positions to seek strategic partnerships as well as creating a balanced portfolio of short, medium and long term charters. In addition to the contracts with Hyundai, Golar is in final discussions with regards to further increasing the Company's new building investment. With these new investments in vessels at attractive prices, the current portfolio of long term charters and the corporate structure including Golar LNG Partners, the Company is well positioned to serve its customers' rapid expansion and to grow earnings aggressively in the years the come. The Board is committed to making the Company the world's leading independent LNG shipping company.

The Board is hopeful that a significant part of the Company's current market capitalization can be repaid to shareholders in the form of cash dividends in the next three to five years. The size of the dividend will be dependent on asset sales to Golar LNG Partners L.P ("Golar Partners"), financing of its existing newbuild programme, any potential monetisation of its holding in and dividend receipts from Golar Partners and cash flow from its normal activities.

The Company expects its first quarter 2012 EBITDA to be in line with fourth quarter 2011 before the impact of reactivation costs. However, with the commencement of charters for Grand, Arctic and revenue contribution from Hilli, Gandria and Khannur, the Company expects that its EBITDA will have grown by more than 40% in the second quarter. EBITDA is expected to grow further in the third and fourth quarter 2012 based on existing contracts. Further growth can be expected in 2013 and 2014 when the newbuildings are delivered and the total fleet increases from 13 to 24 units. The board is excited about the outlook for the Company.

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.

February 21, 2012

The Board of Directors

Golar LNG Limited

Hamilton, Bermuda.


This information is subject of the disclosure requirements pursuant to section 5-12 of the Norwegian Securities Trading Act.


Golar LNG Q4 Results 2011:

http://hugin.info/133076/R/1587754/498070.pdf


This announcement is distributed by Thomson Reuters on behalf of Thomson Reuters clients. The owner of this announcement warrants that:

(i) the releases contained herein are protected by copyright and other applicable laws; and

(ii) they are solely responsible for the content, accuracy and originality of the information contained therein.

Source: Golar LNG via Thomson Reuters ONE

[HUG#1587754]

Contact Information

  • Questions should be directed to:

    Golar Management Limited
    +44 207 063 7900

    Doug Arnell
    Chief Executive Officer

    Brian Tienzo
    Chief Financial Officer