Oversupply Leads to Slide in LPG Freight Rates

Due to the ongoing oversupply in the pressurised market, the LPG sector has seen a further slide in average rates for smaller and older vessels in the past twelve months as the rolling average dropped off about 15% from the end of Q1 2015 for the smaller vessels, whilst the larger vessels have held broadly stable, according to pressurized gas shipping company Epic Gas.

The market remained more or less stable during the first quarter of 2016, as 3,500cbm, 5,000cbm and 7,500cbm market rates averaged USD 5,562, USD 7,151 and USD 11,192 per day, respectively.

Five new vessels, representing a total of 34,600cbm of capacity, were delivered during the quarter, while only one 4,000cbm pressure vessel was scrapped, the company said.

Of the 313 international trading pressurised ships on the water today, 20 vessels equalling 6.4% of the fleet are 25 years or older, and could be considered candidates for scrapping. There are a further 27 small semi-ref vessels of a similar age. After combining pressurised and semi-ref vessels, approximately 9.4% are likely scrapping candidates.

The lower returns in the market combined with limited yard and tank manufacturing capacity have led to just two 7,500cbm new build orders placed during the period for delivery ex Japan in 2018.

As of March 31, 2016, the order book for pressurised vessels is correcting downwards, and stood at 18 ships and 144,200cbm of capacity, representing a modest 9% of the existing global fleet by cubic.

Epic Gas said that its vessels performed 32 transhipment operations off Singapore in the quarter, which was five times more than the same period in 2015.

Furthermore, the company’s fleet experienced 59 scheduled and unscheduled technical off-hire days during the quarter, resulting in fleet availability of 98.2%, while operational utilisation was 95.3%.

Epic Gas recorded a net loss of USD 1.4 million in the first quarter of 2016, a rise of 42% compared to the USD 2.4 million net loss seen in the same period a year earlier.

The company’s revenue for the period stood at USD 32.2 million, against USD 33.4 million reached in the first quarter of 2015.

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