Reuters - Finnish gas company Gasum is to acquire 51 percent of Norwegian Skangass's distribution operations from Lyse Corporation as it seeks to improve the efficiency of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) network.
Gasum said on Monday that the deal, which will make it the largest Nordic operator in the LNG market, is also intended to ensure that it benefits from tighter European Union emissions regulations.
Various new regulations on sulphur emissions in the shipping sector will come into place for much of the North and Baltic Sea as well as the United States and Canada in 2015, which has driven interest in alternative fuels to diesel.
"This [acquisition] will probably mean owners in the shipping sector will hesitate less when they order ships, because they can depend on LNG," Tommy Mattila, head of Gasum's LNG business, told reporters.
Gasum said that Skangass's terminals and tankers will help to bolster the scale and cost-efficiency of its LNG sourcing and delivery.
"The acquisition enables the creation of sufficient market coverage and distribution infrastructure in the Nordic countries, giving Gasum the possibility to offer a much more competitive product for end users in the maritime, industrial and heavy transport sectors," Johanna Lamminen, Gasum's executive vice-president, said.
The companies did not disclose the value of the deal and Gasum declined to comment on how long it would take to make a profit on the investment.
Gasum's owners include state-controlled utility Fortum , Russia's Gazprom, the Finnish state and Germany's E.ON, who hold stakes of 31 percent, 25 percent, 24 percent and 20 percent respectively. The Finnish government said last year that it was considering buying E.ON's stake.
(Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and David Goodman)