J. Lauritzen celebrates the 30th anniversary of Lauritzen Kosan

Sep 27 2019
A old photo of Greta Kosan in yellow paint
Greta Kosan, painted in the Kosan yellow, built in 1990

This summer marked the 30th anniversary since J. Lauritzen acquired the pioneering company Kosan Tankers, when they formally became Lauritzen Kosan.

Back in 1989, Kosan was already a well-known name in Europe and beyond for delivering gas for everyday household use. The company had shown its pioneering spirit back in the fifties by developing the first custom-made gas tanker – allowing them to transport gas in larger quantities much more economically, using pressure and/or refrigeration.

J. Lauritzen was already in the business of cooling in the late eighties with its reefer business and decided to take on Kosan’s niche gas tanker business. Peter Weitemeyer, President of JL at the time, commented that Kosan shared the same focus as JL on safety, customer service, cargo handling and operational efficiency, with quality as a keyword. He concluded that “both companies were founded by forceful and innovative personalities with a firm belief in the value of a strong company culture.”

When Kosan Tankers became part of J. Lauritzen in 1989, they had 18 vessels, with two more on the way. The vessels were characteristically small compared to the wider JL fleet – their goal was to get as close as possible to their customers – which often meant reaching installations at smaller ports or jetties that are unable to handle larger ships. This strategy was a good fit with the customer-centric approach found across JL’s other businesses.

Over time, Lauritzen’s gas business grew, with the acquisition of companies such as Gasnaval in the early nineties and the ordering and delivery of the Tenna and Tessa Kosan. The expansion of the fleet allowed Lauritzen Kosan to trade over longer distances – such as across the Atlantic - and gradually operations became worldwide. The company also began to carry a broader range of cargoes as the increase in consumer goods led to a greater demand for plastics and, in turn, a greater demand for petrochemical materials.

The trend towards petrochemicals continued in the 2000s, with the ordering of ethylene carriers and the expansion of the fully pressurised fleet to take advantage of the growing market in Asia at that time. In 2008, Lauritzen Kosan was awarded “Ship of the Year” at the Lloyd’s List London Awards for Isabella Kosan, in recognition of her design and features as the first of a series of new, innovative and environmentally friendly ethylene gas carriers.

Today, Lauritzen Kosan is an internationally significant player in the petrochemical industry, operating a fleet of 30-35 vessels up to 12,000 cbm. Although it has increased in size – and eventually repainted the vessels from yellow to the distinctive JL red – the original pioneering spirit of Kosan remains. Some members of the original staff are still working for Lauritzen Kosan today – and the company’s forward-looking, inclusive and supportive culture remains.


Our short video below summarises the story and includes some of our archive photography across the duration of Lauritzen Kosan.

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