West African producer Nigeria LNG (NLNG) has formally kicked off the fleet renewal process for its shipping arm Bonny Gas Transport (BGT) with the naming of a Capital Gas newbuilding it is taking on bareboat charter.

In a ceremony at Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries in South Korea, NLNG managing director and chief executive Philip Mshelbila, who is also BGT executive vice president, said the charter of the 174,000-cbm newbuilding Aktoras, is “a transformative stride towards decarbonisation and a sustainable future”.

Mshelbila said: “The charter of a newbuild modern tonnage to BGT, on a bareboat charter basis, represents a strategic move towards diversifying our shipping portfolio.

“This vessel signifies a new era of greater efficiency and sustainability for BGT’s fleet.”

He continued: “The enhanced fleet capacity will support NLNG as it continues to harness Nigeria’s abundant natural gas resources, reposition itself in the energy transition era and prepare for the future, which includes the expansion of its production capacity in furtherance of the commitment to meet the growing demand for clean and sustainable energy solutions on a global scale.”

In October, TradeWinds reported that Evangelos Marinakis-controlled Capital Gas Ship Management had chartered two of its LNG carrier newbuildings — the Aktoras and sister ship Axios II — to BGT and bought a secondhand LNG vessel from the Nigerian company.

Bareboat deals of around seven years on the newbuildings at $100,000 per day, equating to a time-charter equivalent of close to $120,000 per day were reported. Capital has recently sold the secondhand vessel.

BGT, which was set up in 1989 as a direct subsidiary of NLNG, is chartering the vessel in “a strategic move to diversify and reduce the carbon footprint of its shipping portfolio”.

NLNG described the vessel, which is fitted with a MEGA propulsion system, as “a pivotal addition” to BGT’s fleet.

The new LNG carrier will be managed by NLNG Shipping and Marine Services which is headed up by Abdulkadir Ahmed who also attended the ceremony along with NLNG deputy director Olakunle Osobu and Capital Gas chief executive Jerry Kalogiratos.

The Aktoras was named by its sponsor and godmother, Olu Verheijen, the special adviser to Nigeria’s president on energy.

Verheijen said: “In the spirit of progress and renewal, this newly constructed vessel replaces ageing steamships, breathing new life into the fleet and bolstering BGT and NLNG’s capacity to meet the growing demands of the LNG market.”

She described it as “a corporate milestone” and praised NLNG and BGT’s commitment to adapting to an ever-evolving global energy landscape.

“Their dedication to future-proofing their business resonates deeply with me, recognising it as a crucial strategy to maintain relevance and competitiveness in the dynamic LNG market,” Verheijen said.

In a pre-vessel naming dinner, the Charge d’affaires of the Nigerian Embassy in South Korea, Ambassador Ferdinand Nwonye, urged South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries to invest in a shipyard in Nigeria.

“Nigeria offers the biggest market in Africa and there is no shortage of quality manpower in Nigeria,” Nwonye said. “Establishing a shipyard in Nigeria will give you easy access to the markets of both West and East African countries. It will be a win-win cooperation for all of us.”