Golar LNG Ltd. (GLNG:US), an owner of liquefied natural gas tankers, said fourth-quarter profit declined 40 percent because of idle ships and rising crew and maintenance costs.
Net income was $10.6 million, or 16 cents a share, compared with $17.8 million, or 27 cents, a year earlier, Hamilton, Bermuda-based Golar said today in a statement to the Oslo exchange. Operating costs rose 13 percent to $27.3 million, while sales fell to $45.2 million from $45.4 million in the year-ago period.
Golar, created by Norwegian billionaire John Fredriksen, has wagered $1.1 billion on liquefied natural gas since 2001, buying seven LNG tankers without first signing contracts for their use. The company in December won a five-year contract to provide three tankers to Royal Dutch Shell Plc.
``The Board expects that the earnings from the company's spot vessels and those under charter to Shell will show further improvement from the fourth quarter of 2005 during the first quarter of 2006,'' Golar said in the statement.
Shell Tankers Ltd. will charter the one-year-old Golar Viking, which will be renamed Gracilis, and two new LNG ships slated for delivery from shipyards this year. Shell International Trading and Shipping Company Ltd. will be the technical manager of all three vessels.
``Most of the available ships that negatively impacted the market during 2005 are now employed in their intended projects,'' Golar said in the statement. ``The increased utilization has also pushed daily rates up towards a rate level equal to or higher than'' long-term freight rates, it said.
Golar shares rose 5 percent, or 4.5 kroner, to 95 kroner and traded at 93 kroner at 12:10 p.m. in Oslo. They have risen 10 percent in the past year, valuing the company at 6.1 billion kroner ($914 million).
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