Golar LNG Q3 Results 2010
INTERIM RESULTS FOR THE QUARTER ENDED SEPTEMBER 30, 2010
· Golar LNG reports consolidated net income of $4.1 million and consolidated operating income
of $21.5 million
· Golar LNG Energy selected as successful bidder for West FSRU project and signed LOI with charterer PT Nusantara Regas
· Further tightening and improvement of spot and short-term LNG shipping market during the quarter
· Golar Commodities operational and executed 2 physical cargo trades; operated at a net cost for the quarter but outlook positive
· Golar LNG announces a cash dividend increase to target rate of $0.25 cents per share
Golar LNG Limited ("Golar" or the "Company") reports consolidated net income of $4.1 million and consolidated operating income of $21.5 million for the three months ended September 30, 2010 (the "third quarter").
Revenues in the third quarter increased to $70.4 million as compared to $55.7 million for the second quarter of 2010 (the "second quarter"). The improvement is primarily due to the Golar Freeze being operational for the entire quarter as compared to only part of the second quarter, as well as a significant improvement in the earnings of the spot trading vessels. In addition, operating revenue for Khannur was higher than in the second quarter as the vessels charter was terminated in the third quarter with all outstanding charter hire due under the contract paid in the third quarter. Overall utilisation for the third quarter has significantly improved up at 83% as compared to 62% for the second quarter. Third quarter average daily time charter equivalents ("TCEs") also increased to $63,110 compared to second quarter TCE of $47,332.
As a result of improved utilisation, voyage expenses were $1.5 million lower than the second quarter. Administrative expenses increased in the current quarter as compared to the second quarter by $3.4 million primarily due to set up and recruitment costs associated with Golar Commodities Limited ("Golar Commodities") Golar LNG Energy Limited's ("Golar Energy") newly established LNG trading subsidiary, in addition to ongoing running costs.
Other operating expense of $3.4 million represents net mark-to-market losses on physical cargo trades and financial derivative contracts transacted in the third quarter by Golar Commodities.
Net interest expense for the third quarter at $9.1 million was up from $8.2 million in the second quarter due to slightly higher average debt levels as a result of the Golar Freeze debt facility entered into in June 2010.
Other financial items have slightly decreased to a loss of $10.8 million for the third quarter from a loss of $11.2 million in the second quarter. In addition to non-cash charges of $3.9 million in respect of interest rate swap mark-to-market valuations and $2.9 million relating to lease obligation retranslations, other financial items also includes interest paid in respect of interest rate swaps of $3.2 million not designated as hedging instruments.
The net gain on sale of investee of $0.4 million represents the sale of 1.4 million LNG Limited shares for a total consideration of $0.8 million.
Cash and cash equivalents decreased by $48.2 million during the quarter. The Company used cash from operating activities of net $14.5 million. Included in this is a cash payment of approximately $36 million to secure obligations in connection with Golar Commodities initial LNG cargo trades, subsequent to the quarter end these amounts have been refinanced by the new trade finance facility or repaid. The Company used $7.7 million in investing activities and used $25.9 million on financing activities during the quarter. Financing activities payments includes repayment of debt of $18.3 million and dividend payments of $7.1 million.
Financing, corporate and other matters
In line with last quarter's stated target dividend level, the Board has decided to propose an increased cash dividend of $0.25 cents per share in respect of the third quarter of 2010. The record date for the dividend is December 8, 2010, ex-dividend date is December 6, 2010 and the dividend will be paid on or about December 22, 2010.
The Company has a total number of shares outstanding of 67.6 million. The Company currently owns 145.3 million (63.6%) shares in Golar LNG Energy.
Golar Commodities has entered into a $150 million LNG trading facility on an uncommitted basis. The facility will provide finance for the provision of working capital requirements including the provision of letters of credit in respect of the purchase and sale of LNG cargoes.
Subsequent to the quarter end Golar Energy sold its remaining 7.1 million LNG Limited shares for approximately $4.2 million which will give rise to a gain in the fourth quarter of approximately $1.2 million.
The Company's long-term contracted vessels, two LNG carriers (Golar Mazo and Methane Princess) and 3 FSRU's (Golar Spirit, Golar Winter and Golar Freeze) all operated without major issue during the quarter.
Golar Freeze collected a commissioning cargo during the quarter returning to Jebel Ali toward the end of September. The shore installations and jetty at Jebel Ali were completed by Golar's customer, Dubai Supply Authority, on time in accordance with their revised schedule in early October and the commissioning of the Golar Freeze commenced immediately thereafter and is continuing to plan.
After quieter periods earlier in the year both Golar Spirit and Golar Winter have been regasifying almost continuously since the middle of 2010 and for significant periods at maximum capacity; Petrobras having purchased in the region of 30 LNG cargoes in 2010.
The Company's chartered in vessel Ebisu was redelivered to owners on September 22, 2010.
The transfer of vessel management of all the Company's vessels, including Golar LNG Energy's vessels to Golar Wilhelmsen Ship Management was successfully completed shortly after the quarter end.
Golar LNG Energy
A marked contrast to previous quarters was evident in the shipping market during the third quarter with a gradual tightening of vessel availability over the quarter and reaching a critical level by the end of the quarter. However utilisation was still disappointing in the first half of the quarter for Golar Energy's vessels, including those on charter to Shell where results have been disappointing. Whilst rising over the quarter rates were still not satisfactory during the quarter.
The improvement in the market has continued into the fourth quarter and does not appear to show signs of easing in the near future. Vessel requirements as far ahead as the second quarter of 2011 are now being looked at and there has also been a trend towards longer vessel fixings than was the case earlier in 2010. Currently all Golar Energy spot vessels are employed and are expected to be close to fully employed through the fourth quarter.
Golar Energy announced in October 2010 the award of the West Java FSRU tender. Whilst an exciting development for Golar Energy, the Company believes it is also positive for the floating storage and regasification industry. Sponsored by Indonesia's well known and respected national energy companies, Pertamina and PT Perusahaan Gas Negara (Persero) Tbk, "PGN", this project represents yet another example of credible industry players turning to FSRU technology to deliver low cost and fast track LNG import projects.
The West Java FSRU project represents the Golar Group's fourth FSRU project but first offshore FSRU which will include the provision of mooring facilities. The contract duration is for a firm period of approximately 11 years and with a total contract value of approximately $500 million. Additionally Golar Energy has automatic extension options for an additional three years, subject to contract terms. A Letter of Intent ("LOI") was recently signed with Nusantara Regas to undertake the financial commitments associated with order of long lead items and detailed engineering, accomplishing an important project milestone. Parties have now commenced discussions on the FSRU Time Charter Party.
The Company continues to see excellent prospects globally for new floating storage and regasification projects and expects more projects to be concluded during the coming years.
Golar Commodities initiated operations in the third quarter and executed its first spot cargo transactions. The company was active in the spot markets as evidenced by its participation in the export of a cargo from the US and a cargo sale into Far Eastern markets. Although an undesirable, and unintended, short shipping position contributed to a loss on a cargo, transactions will normally be designed with a high degree of flexibility, including shipping flexibility, to reduce operational risks. With this intended flexibility Golar Commodities expects to be able to operate from a position of operational strength in the future in a tight shipping market.
Whilst as noted above it is disappointing that Golar Commodities recognized a trading loss in the third quarter this position is expected to be recovered during its first full year of trading.
Notable accomplishments in the 3rd quarter, besides executing the initial trades, include initiation of a $150mm trade finance facility, continued staffing to support operations, development of risk management systems and trading tool implementation and progress toward initiating certain term commercial transactions with customers.
The Golar Commodity team has been well received in the market by counterparts. The Company is hopeful that the combination of shipping and LNG trading activities will be more valuable to customers as the shipping market tightens.
New LNG supply is expected to grow by more than 25 million tonnes this year, corrected for late start-ups and capacity reductions at existing facilities. Whilst there is a current oversupply of LNG, caused mainly by recession-hit demand and an increased unconventional supplies, new demand centres are emerging in Asia, led by China and in new markets such as South America and the Middle East.
The increased flexibility in the LNG market created by a strong increase in production and more flexible receiving terminals including FSRU's is opening the LNG market and making LNG into a very cost competitive feed stock. The overall demand for flexible LNG solutions is likely to be further supported by the fact that large nations such as China are now seriously considering LNG fuelled vehicles.
Although there is still some uncertainty as to how the tightening LNG shipping market will sustain through the spring of 2011, the fourth quarter of 2010 and first quarter 2011 look likely to be strong in terms of utilisation with improving rates. After more or less ten years with structural over capacity in the LNG shipping market, the Board is increasingly optimistic that market fundamentals are changing. With a total order book of only approximately 5% of the total fleet and strong increases in LNG production it is likely that the LNG shipping market will significantly improve in the years to come. Such a bullish view is further supported by current increases in demand for short to medium term charters from major oil and gas companies.
The market for provision of FSRUs continues to gain velocity both in terms of number of visible projects and progress of those projects towards final investment decision. Being named the successful bidder in the West Java FSRU tender process has been an important step forward for Golar Energy.
Whilst merchant LNG trading continues to develop, the tightening of the LNG shipping market has impacted the spot LNG cargo market. Therefore, some firms with limited shipping length are currently somewhat constrained from participating in certain spot trading opportunities and suppliers are seeing less spot liquidity. If this trend toward a reduction in shipping slack persists, the control over vessels may become a more important driver impacting the direction of Golar Commodities. Golar Commodities continues to evaluate this dynamic and will assess the merits of contracting tonnage on a term basis to complement and enhance its cargo trading activities. Constraints in transportation and storage flexibility in the commodity market value chains can often be a very favorable dynamic for merchant trading firms able to adapt quickly. Golar Commodities fully intends to leverage its deep knowledge in shipping and FSRU's to enhance its evolution of its LNG trading efforts.
Whilst the older vessels Gimi and Khannur will stay inactive during the fourth quarter, the majority of this earnings reduction will be offset by significantly improved utilisation and earnings from Golar Energy's vessels operating in the spot market. The performance of Golar Commodities is also expected to be improved.
Operating revenues for the five long-term contracted vessels in the fourth quarter are expected to be in line with third quarter revenues. The Board is currently considering the optimal financing and structure for the Company's long-term contracted assets in order to maximise value for shareholders. At the same time the Board is pleased that the Company, in line with its prediction, has reached its target rate of dividend of $0.25 cents per share.
Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains forward looking statements. These statements are based upon various assumptions, many of which are based, in turn, upon further assumptions, including examination of historical operating trends made by the management of Golar LNG. Although Golar LNG believes that these assumptions were reasonable when made, because assumptions are inherently subject to significant uncertainties and contingencies, which are difficult or impossible to predict and are beyond its control, Golar LNG cannot give assurance that it will achieve or accomplish these expectations, beliefs or intentions.
Included among the factors that, in the Company's view, could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward looking statements contained in this press release are the following: inability of the Company to obtain financing for the new building vessels at all or on favourable terms; changes in demand; a material decline or prolonged weakness in rates for LNG carriers; political events affecting production in areas in which natural gas is produced and demand for natural gas in areas to which our vessels deliver; changes in demand for natural gas generally or in particular regions; changes in the financial stability of our major customers; adoption of new rules and regulations applicable to LNG carriers and FSRU's; actions taken by regulatory authorities that may prohibit the access of LNG carriers or FSRU's to various ports; our inability to achieve successful utilisation of our expanded fleet and inability to expand beyond the carriage of LNG; increases in costs including: crew wages, insurance, provisions, repairs and maintenance; changes in general domestic and international political conditions; the current turmoil in the global financial markets and deterioration thereof; changes in applicable maintenance or regulatory standards that could affect our anticipated dry-docking or maintenance and repair costs; our ability to timely complete our FSRU conversions; failure of shipyards to comply with delivery schedules on a timely basis and other factors listed from time to time in registration statements and reports that we have filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our Registration Statement on Form 20-F and subsequent announcements and reports. Nothing contained in this press release shall constitute an offer of any securities for sale.
November 26, 2010
The Board of Directors
Golar LNG Limited
Questions should be directed to:
Golar Management Ltd - +44 207 063 7900:
 Interest expense in respect of interest rate swaps that are not designated as hedging instruments are now included within other financial items - see note 2 to the interim financial statements
Golar LNG Q3 Results 2010