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LNG underperforming, Golar ready to wait for upturn

Golar LNG has reported a first quarter profit of $13m as lacklustre global LNG production caused negative growth and a lack of cargoes.

During the quarter the floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) Igloo was delivered, commissioned and sold to Golar LNG Partners for $310m. A gain of $35.4m was recorded in the first quarter for the sale of the vessel, which commenced a charter with Kuwait National Petroleum Company in March.

Golar LNG's stake in Golar Partners earned it $14.8m in total, down slightly on the previous quarter as the company sold off some of its common units in the partnership.

Taken as a group, Golar LNG and Golar LNG Partners pulled in revenues of $106.2m as time charter equivalent earnings were up to $85,794 per day. Golar Partners' fleet achieved 100% utilisation for the period and accounted for 87% of total net time charter revenue.

In its current state the LNG carrier market is cause for concern for the board, and it sees that trend continuing for at least the rest of 2014, but the balance is expected to turn in the owner's favour in the next two years. "The company is in a solid financial position to wait for this to occur," it stated in its earnings release.

In the near future, Golar LNG expects spot rates to hold steady, or soften slightly. For the longer term the company is more upbeat as it forecasts a shortfall in vessel supply for the LNG market as supply by 2020. It expects that continued soft charter rates will discourage new orders while LNG supply increased from around 237m tonnes last year to 400m tonnes by 2020.

With the signing of a four ship sale and leaseback deal with ICBC Financial Leasing, Golar's newbuilding project is fully funded. Under the terms of the latest agreement, 90% of the vessels price tag will be funded, at which point the company will bareboat charter them for 10 years, with a purchase option after five years .

Currently $1.54bn has been paid of the total $2.74bn newbuilding costs.

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