Oil and gas group Shell has put four former Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers back into service after selling the ships to a Singapore company. The move could bring some relief to the tight gas market, as Shell can now supply more LNG again.
Shell, which controls about 90 tankers or one-fifth of the world’s LNG fleet, decided in March to keep the ships out of service amid fears of reputational damage and Western sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine. The ships were chartered from the Russian state-controlled Sovcomflot.
Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping bought the four vessels from a consortium of banks led by ING Bank. Before the sale to Eastern Pacific Shipping, Moscow-based Sovcomflot had transferred the ships to the banks as part of a restructuring of its debts.
Shell recently signed new long-term charter agreements with Eastern Pacific Shipping for the four vessels, according to insiders. Eastern Pacific Shipping and ING declined to comment on the deal. Shell and Sovcomflot were not immediately available for comment.
Bringing the ships back into service could also potentially ease pressure on LNG vessel charter rates, which have tripled in the past three months. The Russian fleet of gas and oil tankers has been a lot less active since the invasion of Ukraine. Some gas buyers refused to accept the Sovcomflot tankers after the company was added to the UK sanctions list, leading international insurers to distance themselves from the company.