Norwegian shipowner Hoegh LNG has received an expected notice from the Lithuanian charterer of one of its floating storage and regasification units that it will be exercising its option to buy the vessel.

Hoegh said KN, formerly Klaipedos Nafta, will be buying the 170,000-cbm Independence (built 2014).

The transfer of ownership is expected to occur in December 2024, Hoegh said, which dovetails with the expiry on the original charter contract.

The existing FSRU contract between a Hoegh LNG subsidiary and KN remains unchanged until then, the shipowner said.

The purchase price of Independence is $153.5m.

The loss of Independence will slim Hoegh LNG's FSRU fleet to nine vessels.

The move by KN is not unexpected.

The company declared its intention to take on the regas unit in 2019. At the time the company said it was seeking a loan of up to EUR 135.5m spread over 26 years to buy the vessel saying acquiring the FSRU would ensure competition in the gas market and contribute to the energy security of the state.

On 25 February shareholders in Lithuania’s energy company approved a decision to take up the purchase option on Independence.

Industry players said that while the decision to acquire the FSRU was made prior to Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the heightened energy security situation in Europe will only have accelerated the move to cement the purchase of Independence.