LNG Carrier SOYO

LNG Carrier SOYO, image courtesy Angola LNG Supply Services

(Bloomberg) — A liquefied natural gas carrier signaled that it’s sailing to Angola, prompting speculation shipments of the fuel from a project in the West African country may soon start after more than a year’s delay.

The Soyo, built in 2011 to carry cargoes from the Angola LNG terminal on a 20-year lease, has been located off Malaysia this month, according to IHS Fairplay ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. The ship has sailed to Norway, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Kuwait and South Korea since June. Its destination today is “off Angola,” a journey that would take about 18 days, according to the website sea-distances.net.

The voyage may be a sign that the facility with capacity to produce 5.2 million metric tons a year is preparing to start exporting toward the end of the second quarter, said Oyvind Berle, an analyst at DNB Markets in Oslo. Commissioning of the plant, originally scheduled for the first quarter of 2012, was delayed for repairs after a fire in June, two people with knowledge of the matter said in January.

State-owned Sonangol has a 22.8 percent stake in the Angola LNG plant. Chevron Corp. owns 36.4 percent, while Total SA, BP Plc and ENI SpA each hold 13.6 percent, according to the project’s website.

Total, BP and Eni referred questions to the project’s operator. Four calls to the contact number on Angola LNG’s website cut off. Chevron didn’t immediately return two phone calls and an e-mail seeking comment.

Angola needs to start exporting for LNG shipping rates to recover from too many ships competing for scarce cargoes, according to RS Platou Markets AS, the investment-banking unit of Norway’s largest shipbroker. Spot rates slid 10 percent to $110,000 a day this year, according to data from Fearnley LNG, a shipbroker in Oslo.

- Isaac Arnsdorf and Rob Verdonck, Copyright 2013 Bloomberg.

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