FIDs imminent on next wave of LNG supply
The apparent ease by which the current wave of new LNG supply is being absorbed by markets has turned attention to who will develop the next wave of LNG supply. Wood Mackenzie currently forecast that 114 mmtpa of new LNG capacity will take FID between 2018 and 2021.
These pre-FID projects will not provide any new LNG to the market until at least 2023 and most of it is unlikely to be available to ship before 2025. Between the current wave of new LNG supply and the anticipated pre-FID wave there will be a period of low LNG supply growth. Ships being ordered now will deliver just in time for the start of the period of low supply growth.
Still low yard prices
In real terms newbuilding prices for LNG ships have never been lower. Elsewhere in the shipping industry newbuilding prices have begun to creep up and prices for LNG ships will eventually follow the trend. The newbuilding prices look even more attractive when you consider how much more you get for your money with the latest ship designs. The temptation for owners is to order sooner rather than later whilst the newbuilding price remains low.
New ships versus old
Vessel design and technology advances have seen the typical new order LNG ship become larger and more efficient, making ships ordered even three or four years ago outdated. Ship orders now are typically sized at 170-180,000m³, compared to 155,000m³, dues to design advances and to maximise carrying capacity through the newly expanded Panama Canal. In addition, the introduction of gas-injection slow-speed engines has offered fuel savings of over 20 tonnes per day even against modern DFDE/TFDE engines and 75 tonnes per day against older steam ships.
Huge orderbook to be delivered
So far this year 36 new vessels have been added to the fleet and three have been scrapped. A further 22 are scheduled for delivery before the end of the year – if these vessels are delivered on time and no further vessels are removed from the fleet, capacity will grow by 13.0% in 2018 (up from 6.8% in 2017). The 37 vessels currently scheduled for delivery in 2019 will grow the fleet another 7.6%.
LNG trade is growing strongly but our forecast of an 8.2% expansion in 2018 lags behind fleet capacity growth. More long-haul imports from the USA to Asia should see tonne-mile demand grow at a faster rate, leaving a delicate balance between supply and demand for LNG ships. But forecast trade growth of 13.7% in 2019 should tip the balance in favour of ship owners.