LNG trade in 2012 - stable but rich in subtle changes
The GIIGNL breakdown of the LNGC fleet shows 41 ships more than 30 years old
GIIGNL’s comprehensive review of the LNG industry in 2012 contains a wealth of information on terminal and LNG carrier fleet performance
The latest edition of the LNG industry’s best annual compilation of trade, fleet and terminal statistics has just been published. The International Group of Liquefied Natural Gas Importers (GIIGNL), through its log of all LNG carrier voyages completed last year, has been able to provide an unprecedented overview of developments in its new The LNG Industry in 2012 publication.
The GIIGNL record of performance shows that 236.3 million tonnes (mt) of LNG were traded worldwide in 2012, a drop of 1.9 per cent on the 2011 volume. This was only the fourth time in the 50-year history of commercial LNG shipments that the trade volume failed to advance on that of the previous year.
Some 59.2 mt, or 25 per cent, of the total movements in 2012, were traded on a spot or short-term basis. Middle East producers accounted for 40 per cent of last year’s LNG output while 71 per cent of the global trade volume was shipped to buyers in Asia. Among the Asian purchases was 20 mt shipped over long distances from liquefaction plants in the Atlantic Basin, spurred by the higher prices that Asian buyers were willing to pay.
At the end of 2012 there were 96 LNG regasification terminals in 26 countries in service, as well as 89 liquefaction trains in 18 countries. Bearing in mind the fact that the 89 trains have the capacity to produce 282 million tonnes per annum (mta) of LNG, LNG producers enjoyed an aggregate 84 per cent utilisation rate in 2012. The global import terminal regasification capacity now stands at 668 mta which means that import terminals as a whole achieved a 35 per cent utilisation rate.
As a result of a 13 per cent drop in Indonesian LNG output in 2012, Australia, with an output of 20.9 mt, moved into third spot in the LNG exporters league table. Only Qatar, with 76.4 mt loaded, and Malaysia, with 23.7 mt, exported more LNG than Australia.
The LNG exporters hit hardest in 2012 were Egypt, where output was down by 25 per cent due to the rising domestic demand for gas, and Yemen, where production fell by 23 per cent. The fall in Yemeni output was due to repeated attacks by militants on the overland pipeline feeding the liquefaction plant at Balhaf.
LNG shipments to every European importer except Turkey slumped in 2012. European imports were down 27 per cent on 2011 levels due to the slackening demand for gas in the faltering eurozone economies. In addition, the higher prices that Asian buyers were willing to pay served to lure away cargoes originally destined for Europe.
According to the GIIGNL study, the LNG carrier fleet at the end of 2012 stood at 378 vessels, including 14 floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs) while the orderbook comprised 78 vessels, including 27 contracted during the year. Two LNG carriers were delivered in 2012, three were scrapped and four were recorded as being laid up.
A total of 3,982 loaded voyages were completed last year, compared to 4,110 in 2011. Japan accounted for 1,533 of these shipments, meaning that the island nation received over four shiploads of LNG per day on average.
Another interesting GIIGNL fleet statistic was the fact that the average LNG carrier completed 11 laden voyages during the course of 2012. The mean in 2002, in contrast, was 19 voyages. Ten years ago there was much more emphasis on intra-regional deliveries of LNG, as typified by the busy cross-Mediterranean trades.
Mike Corkhill, Editor, LNG World Shipping
02 April 2013
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