Statoil reaches LNG ship deal in Japan

Four Japanese firms and Norwegian oil major Statoil will jointly own and operate two LNG tankers, one of the project participants said Tuesday. The tankers will transport LNG from the planned Snoevhit plant off northern Norway. The plant, which recently won the go-ahead with Statoil at the helm, is due to produce 5.7 billion cubic meters of LNG per year for 25 years after it begins production in late 2005 or early 2006. The shipping deal alone is valued at USD 400 million. An official at Kawasaki Kisen, one of the Japanese participants, said the project marks the first in which Japanese shipping firms will be transporting LNG on a long-term basis to the US or Europe. Previous deals have shipped LNG to Japan, which is the world's largest importer of LNG. The tankers will be built at the Mitsui and Kawasaki Heavy Industries yards in Japan.