Each tanker will have capacity to carry 135,000 cubic metres of LNG. A new entity, Oman Shipping Company, which is to be wholly owned by the government, is being formed to manage and operate the vessels. Yards have also been asked to supply detailed financing proposals with their offers. Bankers looking at the deal expect the financing to be structured on a mortgage basis against the value of each vessel.

The tankers will initially be responsible for delivering shipments of LNG to Spain under an agreement signed by the government and the Spanish utility Union Fenosa Gasfor the supply of 1.6 million tonnes a year of LNG starting in 2006. Japan’s Mitsui OSK Linesis acting as technical adviser to the government on its LNG shipping requirements (MEED 28:3:03; 7:6:02).

Last year, the government placed a contract with the Kawasaki yard for a 145,000-cubic-metre LNG tanker, to be named Muscat LNG, that will be used to deliver gas from the existing two Oman LNGtrains in Sur. The vessel will join the Sohar LNG tanker, formerly known as the Lakshmi, which the government acquired a stake in last year when it took a 40 per cent share in Greenfield Shipping Company. It is understood that both vessels will eventually be incorporated into the fleet of Oman Shipping, creating a flotilla of vessels serving Oman’s international LNG customers on a carriage insurance freight (cif) basis (MEED 29:11:02).