The latest LNG carrier fleet statistics compiled by VesselsValue and Clarksons Research convey the underlying strengths of a buoyant shipping market sector
According to VesselsValue, as of 1 August 2018, there were 481 large LNG carriers, including floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs), of over 100,000 m3 in service. This fleet totalled 76.6M m3 in capacity and was valued at US$52.9Bn.
There were on order another 89 such vessels with an aggregate capacity of 15.5M m3 and a value of US$18.2Bn. The cargo-carrying capacity and value of the orderbook are thus 20% and 34%, respectively, of those of the in-service fleet.
Considering ship price depreciation over the years, the relatively high values of the orderbook is not surprising. In terms of ship numbers, two-thirds of the in-service LNG carrier (LNGC) fleet is between 0 and 15 years of age.
VesselsValue identifies Qatar Gas Transport Co (or Nakilat), Mitsui OSK Lines, Teekay, Maran Gas Maritime and NYK Line as the top five LNGC owners. Of the large gas carrier fleet in service, the five control 110 ships with a combined capacity of 19.5M m3 and a total value of US$14.4Bn.
"LNG trades continue to strengthen; there were 275 individual country-to-country LNG trade routes in 2017, up from 168 in 2012 and 90 in 2007"
Of the ships on order, the top five owners are involved with 37 of the newbuildings. These ships have an aggregate capacity of 6.3M m3 and are valued at US$7.8Bn.
The top five LNGC owners are obviously playing a major role in the evolution of the LNGC fleet, but the nature of LNG trades, as one of the fastest growing sectors of the maritime market, leaves the door open to newcomers.
The recent decisions by Minerva Maritime in Greece and Celsius Tankers in Denmark to springboard off their presence in other maritime trades and order LNG carriers for the first time highlights the attractions of this gas shipping sector. The commitment comes with the necessity of joining the relevant industry bodies and gaining access to established industry best practices to smooth their entry into a close-knit fraternity where safety, efficiency and reputation are essential to success.
The VesselsValue figures highlight what is a buoyant sector. A new review by Clarksons Research, LNG Trade & Transport 2018, published in July, states that the LNG trades now cover some 11% of global gas demand, up from 6% in 2000, Furthermore, LNG movements now account for 35% of the global gas trade, up from 26% in 2000.
In 2017 worldwide movements of LNG increased by 9% year-on-year, and Clarksons Research predicts a rise of 11% this year. Statistics compiled by the International Group of LNG Importers (GIIGNL) show that LNG movements by sea reached the 289.9M tonnes per annum (mta) level in 2017.
Looking ahead to 2019 and beyond, further strong growth is on the cards. This conclusion is underpinned by the fact that there is currently 85 mta of new liquefaction capacity under construction, while a further 169 mta of proposed export capacity is at the front-end engineering and design (FEED) stage.
The Clarksons Research study quotes some further interesting numbers that indicate the LNG trades continue to strengthen, namely that there were 275 individual country-to-country LNG trade routes in 2017, up from 168 in 2012 and 90 in 2007.
At the receiving end on these trade routes, FSRU applications are increasing, with 37% of the import capacity under construction expected to utilise regas vessels. Such vessels account for only 9% of existing import terminal regasification capacity.