Petronet LNG Ltd, India’s biggest importer of liquefied natural gas, will take 26 per cent stake in a shipping venture planned to haul gas to its new terminal at Kochi in Kerala.

“We have decided to take 26 per cent stake in the LNG tanker we will time charter for 20 years,” Petronet Director (Finance) R K Garg said.

Petronet has called for bid to select ship owners and operators for transporting LNG to the Kochi terminal, which is scheduled to become operational by this year. “6-7 leading shipping lines have expressed interest. We are yet to decide on the bids,” Mr Garg said.

It will hold 26 per cent of the company formed by the successful ship-owning and operating consortium. The balance 74 per cent will be distributed among the ship owners and operators.

Petronet needs a vessel to ship 1.44 million tonne per annum of LNG it has contracted from Gorgon, Australia.

Supplies from Australia will begin sometime in 2016.

“The vessel, as per our estimate, will cost USD 200 to 220 million,” he said.

Petronet operates a 10 million tonne a year LNG import and regassification facility at Dahej. It will expand this to 15 million tonne by next year.

Besides building the Kochi terminal, it is also constructing a 5 million tonne capacity facility at Gangavaram in Andhra Pradesh.

Petronet received its first LNG tanker ‘Disha’ on January 9, 2004 followed by second LNG tanker ‘Raahi’ on December 16, 2004 and the third LNG tanker ‘Aseem’ on November 16, 2009.

The tankers transport long-term LNG that Petronet is buying from Ras Laffan, Qatar.

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