Eyeing U.S. gas exports, Navigator orders ethane newbuild

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross

DECEMBER 23, 2013 — Wilbur Ross controlled liquefied gas carrier operator Navigator Holdings Ltd. has exercised its last remaining option to construct a 22,000 cu.m gas carrier at Jiangnan Shipyard (Group) Co Ltd. ("Jiangnan") in China at the previously agreed construction price of $44.0 million, with the vessel scheduled for delivery from the shipbuilder in March 2016.

Navigator has also entered into a contract with Jiangnan to construct a 35,000 cubic meter gas carrier for delivery in April 2016. It says "this vessel will be the largest ethane gas carrier on the market enabling efficient transportation to our customers for this essential petrochemical feedstock." The company has an option agreement for the construction of up to three further ethane capable 35,000 cubic meter vessels.

Navigator says the new 35,000 cubic meter ethane carriers were specifically designed in anticipation of large scale exports of ethane becoming available from surplus U.S. shale gas production and the desire by international petrochemical companies to diversify their feedstock supplies with low cost U.S. ethane.

With the two additional committed newbuildings, Navigator now has ten vessels in its newbuilding program, four of which are due for delivery in 2014, four in 2015 and two in 2016.

Navigator Gas is the owner and operator of the world's largest fleet of handysize liquefied gas carriers and provides international and regional seaborne transportation services of liquefied petroleum gas, petrochemical gases and ammonia for energy companies, industrial users and commodity traders. Its fleet consists of 33 semi- or fully-refrigerated liquefied gas carriers, including ten newbuilding vessels scheduled for delivery by April 2016.

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