[SINGAPORE] Embattled trading house Noble Group Ltd said Wednesday it has signed its first liquefied natural gas (LNG) sales contract in the Asia Pacific region.
The LNG sale come as Noble Group, Asia's biggest commodity merchant, shifts its focus to energy from agricultural commodity trading. The company this week sold the remaining 49 per cent stake in its agribusiness for US$750 million in order to slash debt and repair investor confidence after a bruising accounting dispute.
Noble's expansion into LNG comes as a wave of spot cargoes are about to enter the market from Australia and the United states, creating new opportunities in a fuel that has traditionally been traded under long-term deals.
The contract will supply LNG cargoes to an end-user in the Asia-Pacific although the statement did not give details on the name of the buyer or the terms of the sale.
The LNG cargoes will be delivered by 2020 and will be sourced from Noble's global supply portfolio, the company said in the statement.
In less than 18 months of operations, Noble's global LNG business has reached 2 million tonnes, the company said. It delivered its first LNG cargo to the Japanese market in January this year.
While selling its agribusiness and shrinking its non-ferrous metals business, Noble is focusing on more profitable and bigger oil and gas trading, especially with an aggressive expansion of its oil business in the Americas.
Noble's Singapore-listed shares rose as much as 4.5 per cent on Wednesday after the deal to sell its agribusiness, although they are down 60 per cent since the beginning of the year.