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Energean says TechnipFMC declares force majeure on vessel over virus

LONDON, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Gas producer Energean said on Thursday it had been told by TechnipFMC, which is building a vessel it needs to begin Israeli offshore production, that the coronavirus was a force majeure event.

Energean said it still expected its Karish project, which will use the floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel, to deliver first gas in the first half of 2021.

The FPSO has a capacity of 8 billion cubic metres of gas a year.

But the company added that "the rapidly evolving nature of these circumstances is such that it is impossible, at this stage, to determine the overall impact, if any, on Energean’s project timeline".

Energean shares are down around 3.3% to a one-year low at 730 pence as of 0843 GMT.

The death toll of the coronavirus, which originated in and is focused on China, has exceeded 500 people and triggered global travel restrictions.

"Energean has received a notice under its... contract with TechnipFMC in relation to the travel restriction constituting a force majeure event, potentially entitling TechnipFMC to claim an extension of time," Energean said.

"Energean has, in turn, issued corresponding notices to its buyers of Karish gas and other relevant counterparties."

Energean's main buyers are Israeli utilities. (Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; editing by Jason Neely)