Official: Not Enough Vessels to Keep Up with Expected US Gas Exports

The liquefied natural gas tanker market could be faced with a capacity shortage in a few years as projects in the United States aimed at exporting LNG gain momentum, a US Coast Guard official said at Nor Shipping conference on Tuesday.

“We sit on 20 percent of the world’s LNG, so the question is how do we get this commodity into the market place and how do we leverage it for our shipping industry, Paul Zukunft, Commandant of the USCG, is quoted as saying by Reuters.

The US has started tapping into this potential with projects on the country’s Gulf coast that are slated for becoming operational in the next couple of years. These include projects such as Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass and Sempra Energy’s Cameron LNG in Louisiana.

According to Zukunft, the Cameron LNG is one of the biggest  LNG facilities on global scale slated to start operation in 2018.

Cameron LNG is developing natural gas liquefaction and export facilities next to its existing liquefied natural gas (LNG) receipt terminal in Hackberry, Louisiana.

It has obtained approval from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to export up to 12 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa), or approximately 1.7 billion cubic feet (bcf) per day, of LNG to all Free Trade Agreement (FTA) countries, and on September 2014 received final authorization to export to non-FTA countries.

“In the next 3-4 years there are not enough gas ships in the world that can accommodate that growth,” Zukunft added.

The LNG tanker market is currently plagued by overcapacity which has affected charter rates in the first quarter of 2015.

Average spot rates during the quarter were USD 40-45,000/day for TFDE vessels and USD 30-35,000/day for steam turbine vessels. Activity was extremely limited across the market, with some vessels remaining idle for almost the entire quarter.

World Maritime News Staff

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