Start of Golar's floating LNG in Cameroon may draw more Africa clients

LONDON (Reuters) - Golar LNG said on Monday it had started production at its floating LNG (FLNG) platform in Cameroon, the world’s second working example of the nascent technology and a milestone likely to boost its Fortuna project in Equatorial Guinea.

As the cost of land-based LNG plants more than tripled in the decade to 2013, Golar pioneered the conversion of aging LNG tankers into giant refrigerators capable of chilling gas into its liquid form at minus 162 Celsius.

Natural gas when liquefied can be shipped and sold around the world on tankers, like oil.

By starting up the pilot floating plant in Cameroon, Golar is removing uncertainty about the risks associated with squeezing equipment into a fraction of the space occupied by an LNG plant on land, shipping analysts and industry sources say.

Success in Cameroon could speed up Golar’s progress in Equatorial Guinea, where a final investment decision on Fortuna FLNG was delayed after three Chinese banks pulled out last year.

Other projects in Africa could also adopt the technology, such as BP’s plans in Senegal and Mauritania, analysts say.

All of the 1.2 million tonne annual output from the Cameroon project, the Hilli Episeyo, has been sold to Gazprom’s trading arm for eight years.

The first cargo would be exported in early April using the Galicia Spirit LNG tanker, which Gazprom Marketing & Trading has moored off Cameroon, several shipping sources said.

The trader was chartering a second vessel, the sources said.....

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