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LNG Shipping Rates Took a Dive During the Third Quarter, as Demand and Outages Took Their Toll

LNG shipping rates were hit during the third quarter of 2020, as demand was hit and outages in various facilities triggered supply issues as well. In a recent analysis of the LNG shipping market, GasLog said that “LNG demand was 84 million tonnes (“mt”) in the third quarter of 2020, according to Poten, compared to 88 mt in the third quarter of 2019, or a decrease of approximately 4%. Although demand declined globally in the third quarter compared to the third quarter of 2019, it also varied regionally. For example, Chinese LNG demand was 17 mt in the third quarter of 2020, an increase of 13% or approximately 2 mt. In addition, Indian demand was 7 mt, an increase of 13% or approximately 1 mt. These increases were balanced by declines in Europe, the Middle East, Japan, South Korea, North America and South America, which in aggregate saw their demand decline by over 6 mt in the third quarter”.

GasLog added that “global LNG supply was approximately 86 mt in the third quarter of 2020, a decrease of over 3 mt, or 4%, over the third quarter of 2019, according to Poten. Supply from the United States (“U.S.”) decreased by approximately 2 mt or 18%, the result of an estimated 112 cargoes cancelled by customers of U.S. export facilities as well as unplanned outages at Cameron LNG following damage to its power supply caused by Hurricane Laura in late August. In addition, supply from Australia declined by nearly 2 mt or 7%, due in part to unplanned maintenance at Gorgon LNG. Looking ahead, approximately 104 mt of new LNG capacity is currently under construction and scheduled to come online from 2021-2026”.

As a result, “in the LNG shipping spot market, TFDE headline rates, as reported by Clarksons, averaged $41,000 per day in the third quarter of 2020, a decrease from the average of $66,000 in the third quarter of 2019. Headline spot rates for Steam vessels averaged $28,000 per day in the third quarter of 2020, a decrease from the average of $43,000 per day in the third quarter of 2019. Headline spot rates in the third quarter were negatively impacted by declines in LNG demand as well as unplanned outages at facilities in the U.S. and Australia as noted above”.

According to GasLog, “Clarksons currently assesses headline spot rates for TFDE and Steam LNG carriers at $105,000 per day and $78,000 per day, respectively. Early indications are for LNG demand to grow in the fourth quarter of 2020, relative to the third quarter of 2020, as demand in October was 2% higher than September, according to Poten. This demand growth has been reflected in the increasing headline spot rates for LNG carriers observed in recent weeks. However, taking into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy, the forecast growth of the global LNG carrier fleet and expected seasonal trading patterns, there is continued potential for volatility in the spot and short-term markets over the near and medium-term. As of November 4, 2020, Poten estimates that the orderbook totals 118 dedicated LNG carriers (>100,000 cubic meters, or “cbm”), representing 22% of the on-the-water fleet. Of these, 83 vessels (or 70%) have multi-year charters. 28 LNG carriers have been ordered year-to-date, all for long-term business with no vessels ordered on a speculative basis”, the ship owner concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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