CoolCo buys LNG newbuild duo from EPS

LNG carrier operator CoolCo has exercised its option to buy two newbuild LNG carriers from its largest shareholder Eastern Pacific Shipping.

CoolCo signed deals in November 2022 with units of Idan Ofer’s EPS to add up to six LNG carriers to its fleet, and it already wrapped up the purchase of four LNG carriers under this deal.

The firm entered into an option agreement to acquire newbuild contracts for two 2-stroke LNG carriers scheduled to deliver in second half of 2024.

South Korea’s Hyundai Samho is building these 174,000-cbm ME-GA vessels and they feature GTT’s Mark III Flex membrane cargo tank system, reliquification, air-lubrication, and shaft generators.

CoolCo said in a statement late on Wednesday that it has exercised its option to buy the vessels from affiliates of EPS Ventures.

Moreover, the firm is buying the vessels under the pre-existing purchase option price of about $234 million, a discount of approximately 10 percent to current quoted market value for comparable newbuild vessels, it said.

The initial exercise price is about $57 million per vessel, while about $134 million of the remaining $177m is due upon delivery of each of the vessels, CoolCo said.

CoolCo said that the closing date and payment of the option exercise is Monday, July 3.

Kool Tiger and Kool Panther

The LNG carrier operator said it will name the vessels Kool Tiger and Kool Panther.

It expects to fund the purchase with a combination of cash on hand, including cash that was recently released from the sale of the 2013-built LNG carrier Golar Seal to Hoegh LNG, and debt financing for which CoolCo has received a commitment letter from a financing institution.

This debt financing, which is subject to customary approvals, is on a fixed rate per day basis for 10 years with a minimum loan-to-value of 80 percent and an implied interest rate of around 6 percent, the firm said.

CoolCo does not anticipate needing to raise additional equity to finance the two newbuilds.

CoolCo in talks to secure charters for the vessels

CEO Richard Tyrrell said that CoolCo looks forward to welcoming these vessels into its fleet at a “material discount” to their current market value.

He said their 2024 delivery date makes the vessels “especially attractive”, with comparable vessels ordered today only being delivered in the 2027/28 timeframe.

“With the vast majority of the global LNG carrier orderbook already committed to liquefaction projects coming online in the years ahead, few, if any, modern LNG carriers are expected to be available for time charter employment during the late 2024 window when the vessels deliver,” he said.

“We are currently in discussions to forward fix the vessels on long-term time charters and expect to do so well in advance of delivery at levels that reflect current market strength,” Tyrell said.

CoolCo’s shares started trading on the New York Stock Exchange in March and they now trade on both the NYSE and Euronext Growth Oslo under the ticker code “CLCO”.

In February, EPS bought all of the shares from Golar LNG and now owns 58.2 percent in CoolCo, while public investors hold the rest.

Besides these two newbuilds, CoolCo has seven TFDE LNG carriers it acquired from Golar and the four it purchased from EPS.

The company also manages eight LNG carriers and nine FSRUs in addition to owned fleet, according to its website.

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