Golar LNG
oslo : GOL

May 31, 2011 03:13 ET

Golar LNG Q1 Results 2011

HAMILTON, BERMUDA--(Marketwire - May 31, 2011) -



FIRST QUARTER 2011 RESULTS


Highlights

--  Golar LNG reports consolidated net income of $16.3 million and
    consolidated operating income of $20.4 million for the first quarter of
    2011
--  Golar LNG announces a cash dividend of $0.25 cents per share
--  Significant improvement in charter rates during the quarter
--  Golar secures charters for its 4 modern vessels of between 12 and
    18 months. The contracts are expected to generate approximately
    $80 million of EBITDA on an annualized basis
--  Successful completion of the initial public offering of Golar LNG
    Partners raising gross proceeds of $310 million
--  Golar LNG orders 6 new LNG carriers from Samsung Heavy Industries
    and has options on a further 2 vessels
--  In April 2011, Golar LNG acquired shares in subsidiary company Golar
    LNG Energy Limited via private placement share swaps and cash purchases
    that increased its ownership to 95.1%. A voluntary offer has
    subsequently been made for the balance of the outstanding shares of
    Golar LNG Energy Limited and Golar LNG currently owns 99.4 % of the
    shares.
--  The West Java FSRU Project time charter agreement with PT Nusantara
    Regas was executed in April 2011

Financial Review

Golar LNG Limited ("Golar" or the "Company") reports consolidated net income of $16.3 million and consolidated operating income of $20.4 million for the three months ended March 31, 2011 (the "first quarter").

Revenues in the first quarter were $67.5 million as compared to $64.6 million for the fourth quarter of 2010 (the "fourth quarter"). The increase is primarily due to an improved performance from Golar LNG Energy's ("Golar Energy") modern LNG carriers offset in part by the effect of the Golar Grand being in drydock in the first quarter. Vessel utilization for the first quarter was slightly down at 91% as compared to 95% for the fourth quarter, but average daily time charter equivalent rates ("TCEs") for the first quarter increased to $80,694 from $74,206 in the fourth quarter as a result of higher rates for vessels operating in the spot market.

Voyage expenses were slightly higher in the first quarter at $3.8 million as compared to $3.2 million in the fourth quarter but vessel operating expenses were lower at $14.0 million for the first quarter compared to $15.2 million for the fourth quarter.

Other operating losses of $3.6 million in the first quarter represent costs incurred and net mark-to-market valuations related to physical LNG cargo trades and financial derivatives entered into by Golar Commodities in the first quarter. It is expected that gains from the delivery and settlement of these cargos will be realized in the second quarter of 2011.

There were no impairment charges in the first quarter where as in the fourth quarter charges of $4.5 million were recognised principally in connection with the write down of the company's investment in TORP LNG AS.

Net interest expense for the first quarter at $6.9 million was slightly lower than the $7.1 million in the fourth quarter.

Other financial items have decreased by $8.3 million in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter. This is principally as a result of non- recurring termination costs and the write-off of deferred charges of approximately $13 million relating to certain lease arrangements recognized in the fourth quarter. This has been partly offset by a decrease of $2.9 million in non-cash gains on the mark-to-market valuations of interest rate swaps in the first quarter of $3.6 million as compared to the fourth quarter reported gains of $6.5 million.

Financing, corporate and other matters

Dividends

The Board has reviewed the Company's dividend capacity in light of the initial public offering of Golar LNG Partners LP and the Company's newbuilding orders and has decided to maintain the current dividend level of $0.25 cents per quarter. A cash dividend of $0.25 per share will therefore be paid in respect of the first quarter of 2011. The record date for the dividend is June 10, 2011, ex-dividend date is June 8, 2011 and the dividend will be paid on or about June 27, 2011.

Golar LNG Partners LP ("Golar Partners")

In April 2011, the Company completed a public offering of 13.8 million common units (including 1.8 million units issued in respect of an over- allotment option) of its subsidiary, Golar Partners, which is listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the symbol "GMLP". As a result of the offering the Company's ownership of Golar Partners was reduced to approximately 65%. Golar Partners owns and operates a fleet of two LNG carriers and two FSRUs each under long-term charters. The 13.8 million units were priced at $22.50 per unit resulting in gross proceeds of $310.5 million. As part of the transaction the Company has agreed to offer to Golar Partners the right to acquire all its LNG carrier and FSRU assets that in the future obtain contracts of greater than 5 years. The Company expects to sell Golar Freeze and Khannur (both FSRU's with long-term contracts) to Golar Partners during 2011 and 2012 respectively as well as others assets as new long-term contracts are secured.

The value of Golar LNG's share holding in Golar Partners as at May 27, 2011 was $714 million. Based on Golar Partners forecasted distributions Golar will receive a minimum of $10 million per quarter in cash dividends.

Newbuildings

During April and May 2011, consistent with the Company's stated growth strategy, Golar entered into firm contracts to build six 160,000 m(3) LNG carrriers with Samsung Heavy Industries Co Ltd ("Samsung"). Four vessels are to be delivered in 2013 and two in early 2014. The total cost of the six vessels is approximately $1.2 billion. The vessels will be delivered with fuel efficient dual fuel diesel electric engines and lower boil-off rates in comparison to the existing LNG carrier fleet. Furthermore, the Company has retained options to include ice strengthening / winterisation as well as regasification capability on some vessels. The Company considers the competitive price and payment terms, the early delivery positions and the flexibility of design options to create a significant commercial advantage over other operators who will enter the newbuilding market at a later stage. The Company will use the proceeds from the Golar Partners IPO and the proceeds from the expected sale of the Golar Freeze and Khannur to Golar Partners as the equity contribution for the financing of these vessels.

Acquisition of Golar LNG Energy ("Golar Energy")

On April 26, 2011 the company increased its ownership of Golar Energy from 61.1% to 90.5% by entering into agreements to acquire an additional 70,315,792 Golar Energy shares. The sellers received one newly-issued Golar LNG share for every 6.06 Golar Energy shares. The new Golar LNG shares were effectively issued for $30.30 per share.

The share acquisitions were organized into two transactions. In the first transaction, the Company acquired 36,675,639 shares from international institutional investors and, in the second transaction it acquired 33,640,153 from World Shipholding Limited, the Company's major shareholder. The shares in respect of this second transaction will be issued upon the filing of a prospectus with the Oslo Stock Exchange. The two transactions will increase the Company's share capital by 11,524,911 shares.

On April 27, 2011, the Company further increased its ownership of Golar Energy by acquiring an additional 10,536,287 shares at a price of approximately $5 per share. This increased the Company's ownership of Golar Energy to 95.1%.

Subsequently a voluntary offer was made to acquire the remaining outstanding shares in Golar Energy at NOK 26.80. Following the closing of this offer, Golar owns 99.4% of the outstanding shares and will, based on Bermuda law, initiate a compulsory acquisition offer of any remaining shares in Golar Energy and a delisting of Golar Energy from Oslo Axess.

Vessel Charters

As previously announced the Company has entered into time charter agreements for its four modern LNG carriers for periods between 12 to 18 months, providing charter coverage of approximately 57 months. The fixtures commenced between February and April 2011. Based on assumed operating expenses, the four vessels are expected to have a combined annualized EBITDA contribution of approximately $80m.

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. 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. The facility is available until September 2013; all amounts due under the facility must be repaid by then. The Company drew down an initial amount of $35 million in April 2011 to repay the amounts outstanding on its Golar Gas Facility.

Shares and options

During the quarter a total of 540,500 Golar LNG options were exercised. In connection with this, 390,500 new shares were issued. The total remaining Golar LNG options is 400,000. Golar Energy has outstanding options of 5,438,000 which will be converted to Golar LNG options on a proportionate basis in line with the share swap noted above. One Golar LNG option will be issued for every 6.06 Golar Energy options held by directors and employees at a strike price calculated to give the same intrinsic value to holders. Therefore 897,360 Golar LNG options will be issued at an average strike price of $11.84. The revised share option scheme is expected to have a lower overall accounting cost than the original as a function of the lower volatility in Golar LNG's historical share price in comparison to Golar Energy's. The total number of shares outstanding in Golar is 79,801,953 excluding options.

Management changes

With the merger of Golar and its subsidiary Golar Energy, Graham Robjohns will step down as CEO and will be replaced by Doug Arnell as CEO of Golar Management Ltd. Mr. Robjohns will also step down as CFO of Golar Management to be replaced by current Group Financial Controller Brian Tienzo. Mr. Robjohns will however remain as CEO for Golar LNG Partners. These changes will take effect from June 1, 2011.

Shipping

There has been strong demand throughout the quarter for available modern LNG carriers and also demand for older vessels but there has been little availability of either. Charterers started to take vessels for much longer periods in the region of 12 to 18 months but there is now limited optionality for charterers and they have had to adapt requirements to the availability of vessels. There is strong interest for vessels both in the East and the West but many requirements remain uncovered due to lack of vessels. Some small windows of vessel availability will likely occur in the short-term moving forward but the market is expected to remain tight for the next 2-3 years.

Throughout the quarter charter rates remained strong and have now pushed up towards $90,000 per day for modern tonnage.

Based on the fundamental strength of the shipping market and the increased activities in the FSRU market, the Board has decided to reactivate the Gimi which has been laid up since August 2009. The vessel will go through an extensive shipyard upgrading, at a cost of in the region of $10 million, and will be available for trading and infrastructure projects from August this year.

Shareholders should be aware that there are large differentials in total operating costs (including fuel cost) between older steam turbine vessels, modern steam turbine vessels and new generation dual fuel diesel electric ("DFDE") vessels. It can be assumed that the new DFDE ships, based on size, boil off and fuel costs are approximately $40,000 - $50,000 per day more economical to operate than older steam vessels.

The worldwide LNG fleet currently stands at 359 vessels including FSRUs with a further 35 on order, 16 of which have been ordered since January 1, 2011. These of course include those recently placed by Golar with Samsung for 6 new buildings with additional options. There is today very limited shipyard capacity available before 2014. It is anticipated that the tonne mile demand in the period until 2014 will grow significantly faster than the fleet. It is further anticipated that this will lead to a tight and most likely improving freight market.

In the period 2014 to 2015 there are expected to be a number of large LNG projects commencing production, particularly in Australia. These projects will need significant additional shipping capacity. Additional shipping capacity will also be needed to support the recent change in US policy to allow LNG export projects.

Golar's new ships will be delivered at an attractive point in time since they will prove attractive to LNG players who may have to search for additional tonnage sooner than anticipated due to either improving markets or for fleet renewal purposes and will also deliver into a market for vessels that is likely to be very tight.

Golar has already received enquiries from several major LNG producers with respect to long-term chartering of part of its recently ordered newbuilding fleet.

Regasification

In April 2011, Golar announced the execution of the long-term time charter in respect of a Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) and Mooring facility with PT Nusantara Regas, a joint venture between Pertamina and PGN ("West Java FSRU Project "). The contract is for an initial term of approximately eleven years with automatic conditional extension options up to 2025. The contract value for the initial period is approximately $500 million. Project execution is progressing on schedule with all long lead items having been ordered, detailed engineering well progressed and conversion of the Khannur at Jurong shipyard in Singapore underway.

Floating regasification remains a strong area of growth for the Company. This new contract establishes Golar's presence in Asia and represents its fourth FSRU conversion. It further cements the Company's reputation as one of the leading FSRU providers in the world.

There is also significant activity in the development of further floating regasification projects worldwide. Golar is currently involved in four bidding/offer processes and a further three are expected to commence soon.

Golar has proved itself as the only Company to have successfully converted an LNG carrier into an FSRU. With its newbuilding orders Golar is now also capable of offering newly built regasification vessels as an alternative option for customers.

Golar Freeze has recently been going through final acceptance tests for its 10 year time charter to DUSUP and this is expected to be concluded imminently. As a result Golar will enter into discussions with Golar Partners with respect to agreeing a mutually acceptable purchase price for the vessel. The anticipated sale of the vessel to Golar Partners will free up a significant amount of cash for Golar and will help to secure future growth and increased dividend capacity for Golar Partners.

Golar Commodities

During the first quarter, contracts were executed to acquire cargoes, on a delivered basis to, a US Gulf coast import terminal with the intention of re- exporting at a later date. Additionally, sales agreements were executed with customers in premium markets for volumes, on a delivered basis, exported from the US terminal on Golar Commodities chartered vessels. The economic uplift derived from the transport of these cargoes to premium markets will likely accrue in the second quarter. Term charter agreements have been executed on LNG carriers during the quarter of varying terms with limited rights to extend. The cost of repositioning these vessels to load cargos has been expensed in the first quarter prior to the delivery of the cargo's.

Golar Commodities has through charter agreements secured access to two 125,000 m(3) vessels. These vessels have been taken in on charters of approximately 9 months and 2 months with extension options of 6 months plus 6 months and 3 months plus 3 months respectively.

The earthquake, tsunami and ensuing shut down of nuclear facilities in Japan has had a significant impact on the LNG market due to the need to supplement the country's energy requirements through additional LNG supplies. The result has been higher LNG prices in the Far East with some ripple effect in other geographic regions. It has had the additional effect of increasing market shipping rates as supply line distances have increased; effectively reducing slack and availability in LNG shipping.

Negotiations are progressing on term supply, off-take, asset optimization and risk management transactions with a number of customers. The Company expects to consummate some of these transactions in 2011, most of which have a term of less than one year. Opportunities are increasingly being generated through synergies with the Company's FSRU and other asset-oriented ventures. The Board is clearly not satisfied with the results Golar Commodities has generated since start up, but sees clear positive signs in recent developments and appreciates the hard work of the organisation to create a strong strategic position.

Market

The March 11(th) tragedy in Japan caused the shut-down of some 12.4GW of nuclear capacity which led to LNG playing an increasingly pivotal role in meeting Japanese energy requirements. These outages in Japan's nuclear facilities as well as the drive towards replacement gas should result in an additional 7.5 million tonnes per annum ("mmtpa") in 2011 rising to 12 mmtpa by 2015.

Although there is enough flexible LNG available in the market to allow diversions to Japan, this will remove a substantial amount of slack that was previously available. Qatar is able to supply the bulk of the requirements but Japan has been accessing cargoes from other sellers. None of these suppliers has the flexibility of Qatar but many suppliers are delaying maintenance to maximise their output.

In China a reduced appetite for spot cargoes is evidenced on the back of heightened Japanese activity whereas Indian imports have increased recently to make up for reduced domestic production.

South American markets are now heading into their peak season where markets in Argentina have been offering large premiums over Henry Hub and UK NBP. Cargo deliveries into the US showed no signs of picking up in the first quarter. By the end of March only 2.5 million tonnes had been imported, which is understood to be close to the contractual minimum under existing term arrangements. Towards the end of the quarter a number of cargoes were heading into the US Gulf and thereafter available for re-export.

The UK continued to import record amounts of LNG in each month of the quarter and NBP prices showed little sign of easing, which in turn helped prop up Far East prices.

Two new projects (Pluto LNG and Angola LNG) are expected to start up in the second half of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012 respectively. This new production together with debottlenecking projects and the ramp up of the significant number of new projects that have recently started up could add up to 47 million tonnes of LNG to the market by the end of 2012.

In general, the market momentum built up over the previous months as well as the positive outlook going forward should provide some benefits to projects where final investment decisions are yet to be taken.

Outlook

The Board believes the outlook for Golar is very positive due to the major growth trend in LNG supply that is coming in the time period to 2015, combined with the Company's industry leading position in the midstream infrastructure segment of the LNG value chain. Natural gas continues to shine in comparison with high priced oil and nuclear energy's safety concerns. It is entirely possible that the growth of LNG supply going forward may well exceed the already robust estimates.

Golar is well placed to take full advantage of this opportunity. The Company will have a minimum of 10 modern vessels available for spot and long-term charters before the end of the first quarter of 2014. In addition Golar will have 2 vessels plus a 50% interest in a 3(rd) suitable for conversion projects. Golar will seek to use this unique position strategically in order to build long-term relationships and maximise value.

The Company has utilized its strong relationships with shipyards and the ability to raise capital efficiently through the Golar LNG Partners vehicle to position itself to be extremely competitive both on price and delivery timing. Other owners have begun to follow Golar into the newbuilding market however the Board still views the carrier segment to be undersupplied with only a finite shipyard capacity remaining to close the gap in the time required.

The floating regas market, with Golar placed as a worldwide leader, continues to build momentum. By the end of May the Company will have four live offers into new projects with at least three more expected to come before 2011 ends. As the only company to have constructed and operated floating regas terminals through converting existing LNG carriers, Golar brings unequalled credibility and price certainty to potential charterers. The Board believes there is every chance that the Company will increase its existing fleet of FSRU's in the very near term and maintain its industry leading position.

The next wave of midstream LNG solutions continues to be developed inside Golar. Floating LNG to power vessel, floating storage and small scale LNG are all on Golar's drawing board and the Company anticipates they could all add significantly to our growth in the future. It is the Company's target to conclude firm business for at least one of these projects before the end of the year.

The Board also sees several other interesting opportunities for further growth. Shareholders should anticipate continued high investment activities in the coming quarters.

Operating income in the second quarter of 2011 is expected to be significantly positively impacted by further improvement in earnings of the four modern vessels. The Board anticipates strong growth in EBITDA over the next three years. This is expected to be driven by a tighter shipping market, renewal of the existing modern vessels time-charters at higher levels, Golar's newbuildings commencing operations in 2013 and 2014 and by expected new infrastructure projects including the Khannur that will commencing its 11 year charter in 2012.

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.

May 30, 2011

The Board of Directors

Golar LNG Limited

Hamilton, Bermuda.

Golar LNG Q1 Results 2011: http://hugin.info/133076/R/1520057/456458.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#1520057]

Contact Information

  • Questions should be directed to:
    Golar Management Limited
    +44 207 063 7900
    Doug Arnell
    Chief Executive Officer
    Brian Tienzo
    Chief Financial Officer