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2013 Dec 14

Fears mount for LNG shipping outlook

As many as 32 liquefied natural gas carriers will be delivered from the shipyards next year into the global trading fleet of around 390 ships, followed by another 37 in 2015, raising concerns that 2014 and 2015 will be difficult years for LNG shipping as too many ships chase too few cargoes.

The ships were ordered during the surge in demand for vessels that swept through the industry in 2011 following rising Japanese imports as LNG offset the country’s loss of nuclear power.

Subsequent developments in relation to planned US exports of LNG, new Australian cargoes and fresh volumes from West Africa, all contributed to the boom in newbuilding ordering.

However, many expect some of those export projects to be delayed or suffer setbacks due to maintenance issues, restricting LNG cargo supply.

“If you aren’t concerned over supply issues in LNG you’ve probably not been paying attention,” Awilco LNG chief executive Jon Skule Storheill told Lloyd’s List.

Awilco LNG owns a fleet of five LNG carriers.

As a result of project delays or setbacks, new vessels will enter the fleet but the expected volume of new cargoes will fail to materialise, some experts forecast.

Spot and short-term freight rates, up at $90,000-$100,000 per day now, will suffer, dropping as ship availability becomes plentiful, say analysts.

In around a year, it will probably be a “tough time”, for LNG, Stena Bulk chief executive Erik Hånell told Lloyd’s List.

Stena Bulk owns three LNG carriers and holds options for more newbuildings.

Source: www.lloydslist.com; Hal Brown

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