After tankers were in the spotlight last year, is it now time for LNG (liquified natural gas) carriers to take centre stage?
The predictions for a harsh winter, together with the perception that LNG inventories remain at exceptionally low levels ahead of peak winter demand, have increased the demand for LNG. Consequently, this has substantially increased LNG charter rates worldwide.
It will be interesting to see how long LNG prices will stay high. This increase may just be a seasonal effect as energy companies and governments try to restock their inventories ahead of winter.
More generally, everyone acknowledges that LNG is here to stay. LNG will be a key source of energy driving the global energy transition from the more pollutant fossil fuels (coal and petroleum) to the renewable energy era. More energy companies have entered, or are about to enter, the LNG market with new LNG projects announced on a regular basis. In addition, existing LNG projects are one step closer to completion (Yamal 2, Qatar North Field expansion project etc) which will increase worldwide LNG production.
It is also no coincidence that the number of LNG carriers worldwide has been increasing every year since 2011 as more and more shipowners place orders - the number of LNG carriers ordered so far this year already exceeds the total orders for 2020.
It is obvious that LNG has a key role to play in our future and its rapid development and growth shows no signs of slowing.