Eastern Pacific Shipping has snapped up four modern LNG carriers that were formerly owned by Russia’s Sovcomflot for just over $700m in total, in a sale led by ING.

The Idan Ofer-controlled, Singapore-based company has acquired two XD-F LNG carriers, the 174,000-cbm SCF Timmerman (built 2021) and SCF Barents (built 2020).

It also picked up two tri-fuel diesel-electric (TFDE) vessels, the 170,200-cbm SCF Melampus and SCF Mitre (both built 2015).

All four ships are being sold with charters to Shell, with Eastern Pacific signing up to new charter contracts.

Those following the business indicated that the XD-F ships were originally fixed for seven-year periods and the TFDE pair on 10-year periods at rates in the low $60,000s per day.

One said this implies a price of $150m each for the TFDE ships and $200m apiece for the X-DF vessels.

The quartet will be technically managed by Cool Co, the new eight-LNG carrier venture spun off by Golar LNG in December, in which Eastern Pacific is the lead shareholder with a 40% stake.

These new purchases are the first LNG carriers that Eastern Pacific will own directly.

They will probably transport US LNG to Europe as the continent strives to achieve energy independence from Russia.

Eastern Pacific has had a policy not to trade to Russian ports since the start of the invasion of Ukraine.

The LNG carrier sales to Eastern Pacific are among the first to emerge in what is expected to be a sell-off of around 40 ships as Sovcomflot (SCF Group) moves to clear its debts before a sanctions deadline on 15 May.

An ING-led consortium of banks that held the mortgages on the vessels has taken ownership of seven LNG carriers, along with a number of LPG ships and tankers in Sovcomflot’s fleet, so the Russian owner can clear its debts before the cut-off.

Working with regulators in Europe to clear the process, the banks have been offering the vessels to interested parties.

ING Bank told TradeWinds: “We have no comment to share.”

The SCF La Perouse has been named as another sell-off candidate from the Sovcomflot fleet. Photo: Sovcomflot

A further three LNG carriers are also expected to be offloaded. These have been identified as the Gazprom-chartered, 170,000-cbm Pskov and 170,500-cbm Velikiy Novgorod (both built 2014) and 174,100-cbm SCF La Perouse (built 2020), which is on charter to TotalEnergies.

But buyers’ names for this trio have yet to emerge.

Sovcomflot’s “Green Funnel” fleet of dual-fuel aframax tankers, two of which are chartered to Shell, are also understood to be among the sales candidates. The Russian owner was the first to move into LNG fuelling for this size of tanker when it ordered the first vessels in 2017.

Dubai-based Koban Shipping has been named as a buyer for some of Sovcomflot's tanker tonnage.

Responding to market talk of the impending ship sell-off, Sovcomflot previously described rumours of the sale as “exaggerated”.

“The aged tonnage is offered for sale on the market, as well as vessels whose operation does not seem appropriate due to the restrictions imposed on the Russian merchant fleet,” it said at the time.