US-based investment company Nebula Energy is buying a controlling stake in LNG terminal developer AG&P LNG to fast-track its gas-to-power projects in South East Asia and is setting up a new shipping company to support its efforts.
Florida-headquartered Nebula, which was founded just over a year ago, is taking an 80% stake and ploughing $300m into AG&P LNG — a subsidiary of AG&P Group.
United Arab Emirates-headquartered AG&P LNG opened the first LNG import terminal in the Philippines in 2023. It will now operate as an independent subsidiary of Nebula Energy, and AG&P LNG’s existing stakeholders — Osaka Gas, the Japan Bank of International Cooperation and Kuwaiti fund Asiya — will become minority shareholders.
Current AG&P LNG chief executive Karthik Sathyamoorthy will continue in his role, with Nebula founder Peter Gibson appointed as chairman and Sam Abdalla as vice chairman.
Separately Nebula Energy has set up a ship-owning company, Nebula Energy Shipping, to own and operate its marine assets.
Speaking to TradeWinds, Abdalla — who has worked on liquefaction plant and LNG terminal projects before — said that according to Nebula’s calculations, it will need 15 full-size LNG carriers in the next three years.
He said shipping can become a “significant expense” but can also be a “significant opportunity”.
Abdalla said the company is in discussions to own and charter LNG tonnage and revealed that these talks are also focused on one of the options, which would entail buying an existing shipping company.
He said the new shipping entity is part of its commitment to customers to deliver the LNG to their projects. “We can’t allow this to be a risk item. It is a very important [piece of] critical infrastructure we have to take charge of.”
Sathyamoorthy said that having a shareholder who can bring the shipping element helps give customers clear visibility on long-term supply.
- Nebula Energy LLC is an integrated investment, development and asset management firm based in Florida, US.
- It is backed by Peter Gibson, the founder of Mas Energy and executive chairman and owner of Stellar Energy, Broad Pine Investments managing partner Darren DeVore and Nebula CEO Sam Abdalla.
- Gibson said: “This partnership comes at a time of a new cycle of LNG supply and growing demand for LNG in Asia markets where LNG is being increasingly recognised as the critical fuel to profoundly reduce carbon emissions.”
Nebula — which describes itself as an investment infrastructure company focused on LNG-to-power — had the option of growing organically, Abdalla said, but he felt it did not have time for that.
He said the company started focusing on South East Asia and looking for a company to acquire.
“We wanted high growth, and we wanted a company with a pipeline [of projects] and a great team,” he said.
Nebula considered about seven companies, but Abdalla said AG&P, while also fitting its investment criteria for investing in the high-growth markets of South East Asia, had “the most impressive team and exciting pipeline he has ever seen in his life”.
He and Sathyamoorthy met in Dubai and saw immediate synergies, finalising the deal in just over two months.
AG&P LNG has detailed it has a growth pipeline of six LNG terminals in development with a proposed capacity of 25m tonnes per annum of LNG across several international growth projects.
Nebula’s website lists projects in India, the Philippines and Vietnam, although Abdalla said the company is also flexible to look outside the region if a project fits its criteria.
Abdalla hinted that the companies have several upcoming announcements.
Sathyamoorthy, who admits that AG&P LNG had other suitors, said the company is now focused on taking final investment decisions on some of its planned projects in the weeks to come.
Abdalla said Nebula’s $300m investment in AG&P LNG is an initial amount.
“We are going to raise the stack within this year,” he said. “This is going to be a major player in the market.”