UPDATE 1-Nigeria LNG to buy six ships from Samsung, Hyundai -sources

Thu Mar 21, 2013 1:43pm EDT

* Nigeria LNG to buys ships from Samsung and Hyundai

* $1.6 bln loan deal to help fund the acquisition

* Nigeria seeking to harness gas potentials (Adds quote, details)

By Chijioke Ohuocha

LAGOS, March 21 (Reuters) - Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG) will sign agreements this week with South Korea's Samsung Heavy Industries and Hyundai to acquire six LNG carrier ships, two sources close to the deal said on Thursday.

France's BNP Paribas and Nigeria's GT Bank are brokering a $1.6 billion loan to help fund acquisition of the vessels and expect to sign the financing documents next week, a banking source said.

"The agreement to buy the ships should be signed before today or tomorrow," one source told Reuters, adding that NLNG executives had travelled to South Korea for the signing.

The banking source said the loan would be medium-to-long term, with the deal expected to be sealed by the end of March.

Samsung and Hyundai could not be reached immediately for comment.

A spokeswoman for BNP Paribas said it does not normally comment on transactions with clients

NLNG, which is majority owned jointly by Nigeria's state oil company NNPC and Royal Dutch Shell, said last year it would seek international loans to expand the operations of its shipping subsidiary Bonny Gas Transport Limited, which currently has 24 LNG ships.

NLNG was set up more than two decades ago to harness Nigeria's natural gas resources and produce liquefied natural gas and natural gas liquids for export.

It has long-term supply contracts with buyers in Italy, Spain, Turkey, Portugal and France and also sells on the spot market.

NLNG has a capacity to produce 22 million tonnes of liquefied gas a year. It obtains its gas supply from the upstream oil companies and liquefies it for export. (Additional reporting by Michel Rose in Paris; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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