Poland’s ORLEN Group is expanding the company’s presence in the global liquefied natural gas (LNG) market with two new fleet additions, LNG carriers (LNGCs) named ‘Saint Barbara’ and ‘Ignacy Łukasiewicz.’
LNG carrier ‘Saint Barbara’ pays homage to the patron saint of miners, oil and gas workers, while ‘Ignacy Łukasiewicz’ honors, according to the ORLEN Group, “the pioneering figure in the world oil industry, an illustrious inventor, industrialist and advocate for Poland’s independence.”
The vessels were named at a ceremony at the Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries shipyard in Mokpo, South Korea, and are slated to commence sea service by the end of 2023.
Crafted by Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries, they are set to operate under a long-term charter agreement with shipowner Knutsen OAS Shipping.
ORLEN noted that the carriers, once integrated into the fleet, will serve the dual purpose of accommodating both long-term contracts and spot contracts, based on the free-on-board (FOB) delivery terms, whereby the ORLEN Group, as the buyer, will be responsible for collecting and transporting the cargoes.
Daniel Obajtek, CEO and President of the Management Board of ORLEN, said: “The latest additions to the ORLEN Group’s fleet of gas carriers mark a significant milestone in advancing Poland’s energy independence and expanding our footprint in the global liquefied natural gas market.”
“Natural gas, as a strategic resource, plays an essential role in serving households and supporting the chemical industry, but it also remains a linchpin for an efficient and secure energy transition. Our own fleet of LNG vessels has expanded the ORLEN Group’s logistical capacity, strengthening the reliability of supplies while reducing transport costs.”
Ultimately, the total count of vessels in the ORLEN Group’s fleet will be brought to eight, the company said, adding that each vessel will have a capacity of approximately 70,000 tons of LNG.
In terms of size, the gas carriers have been designed to navigate virtually any LNG terminal across the globe, ORLEN emphasized, noting that all the vessels have been equipped with solutions improving their energy efficiency and mitigating the environmental impact. These include integrated management of electricity consumption and a reliquefaction system to recover LNG that naturally evaporates during transport.
In regard to ongoing operations, two ships of the ORLEN Group’s fleet have already been deployed in 2023. Those are ‘Lech Kaczyński’ and ‘Grażyna Gęsicka’, which delivered their inaugural LNG shipments to Poland in March and June, respectively. The upcoming shipment by ‘Grażyna Gęsicka’ is expected to arrive in late October or early November of 2023.
ORLEN said that LNG represents a crucial element of the company’s strategy, which aims to diversify the directions and sources of natural gas for Poland, highlighting that the proportion of seaborne deliveries in the Group’s imports has been progressively rising.
The primary gateway for LNG procured by ORLEN remains the President Lech Kaczyński terminal in Świnoujście, which to date, has seen the arrival of 254 deliveries, totalling some 20 million tons of LNG, the company said. The majority of these cargoes came from Qatar and the United States (U.S.).
The Group has also extended its capacity through the utilization of the Klaipėda terminal in Lithuania since May 2022. Following regasification, the gas makes its way into Poland via the Poland-Lithuania pipeline, while a portion of the fuel is destined for the Baltic markets.
In addition to expanding its dedicated fleet, the ORLEN said the company is also enhancing its capacity to receive liquefied gas at domestic terminals, noting that an August agreement with GAZ-SYSTEM marked a significant step, securing regasification capacity at the forthcoming floating storage regasification unit (FSRU), set to be positioned in the Gulf of Gdańsk. The infrastructure development is expected to boost the annual count of LNG deliveries received by the ORLEN Group by up to 58.