Rates for LNG tankers picked up considerably during the final part of 2017. In the LNG shipping spot market, TFDE headline rates, as reported by Clarksons, rose through the end of the fourth quarter, reaching a peak of $82,000 per day in late December, an increase of 82% from the same time in 2016. According to a market outlook by shipowner GasLog LNG Partners this week, “this improvement in rates, combined with only ten newbuild orders last year, gives us confidence in the sustainability of the current market recovery. While we expect there to be seasonality in both LNG prices and LNG shipping spot rates during 2018, the longer-term outlook for LNG shipping day rates remains positive”.

According to GasLog, “the fourth quarter of 2017 witnessed the start-up of Chevron’s Wheatstone LNG project in Australia, Novatek’s Yamal Train 1 in Russia, and Dominion’s Cove Point project in the United States, building on the momentum in the expansion of global liquefaction capacity seen throughout 2017. In total, over 30 million tonnes per annum (“mtpa”) of new nameplate capacity came online in 2017, an increase of 11% over 2016. Looking ahead, Ichthys, Wheatstone Train 2, Cameroon, Elba Island, Prelude and Yamal Train 2 are expected to begin production this year, adding a further approximately 25 mtpa of nameplate capacity, a projected increase of 9% over 2017”.

The shipowner added that “further out, the long-term outlook for incremental LNG supply and demand continues to gather momentum as witnessed by Cheniere’s recent sale and purchase agreement with Trafigura under which it agreed to supply 1 mtpa of LNG over 15 years beginning in 2019 and Tohoku Electric’s 0.2 mtpa off-take contract with Area 1 in Mozambique. While only one final investment decision (“FID”) was made last year (ENI’s 3.4 mtpa Coral FLNG), various sources project a shortfall of LNG by between 2021 and 2023, implying the need for additional project sanctions over the next 1-3 years”.

According to GasLog, “demand for LNG in 2017 was stronger than expected, growing an estimated 12% over 2016. More specifically, Chinese demand grew by almost 50% year-on-year, overtaking South Korea as the world’s second largest consumer of LNG as the country seeks to introduce more natural gas into its energy mix. Elsewhere in Asia, demand from Japan remained steady while South Korea and Taiwan grew 10% and 14%, respectively. Strong seasonal demand from Asia drove spot LNG prices to over $11/mmBTU in recent weeks, widening the west-east arbitrage window for sending Atlantic Basin LNG into Asia, expanding ton miles and driving incremental demand for LNG shipping capacity.

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It may take time before the strength in the spot market observed this winter translates into the multi-year charter market as we are in the early stages of the recovery. However, we are observing increasing levels of tendering activity for charters ranging from multi-month to multi-year, an encouraging development as we look to fix our open days for GasLog Partners’ three vessels whose current charters end in 2018. In addition, some off-takers for LNG projects scheduled to begin production over the next two years have yet to secure their shipping requirements. We expect a number of vessels for these projects to be sourced from vessels currently operating in the short-term market, but also expect the coming increase in LNG supply to require additional LNG carriers beyond those currently on the water and in the orderbook”, the shipowner concluded.

Source: Hellenic Shipping News.