Lloyd's Register (LR) released the results of its extensive research into the LNG market. Talking at the LNG conference The role of LNG in North American and Caribbean gas supply
in Washington D.C., LR said that between 27 and 75 new LNG ships will be needed to meet the demand for LNG over the next decade in the US market alone.
Many factors have been considered by LR in its forecast of the LNG market, including consideration of replacement of ageing existing ships, take-up of excess capacity at existing import terminals and a rash of new import terminal projects that are likely to succeed.
The US market finds itself short of energy. Gas is the clean burning fuel-of-choice for the electricity-generating plants mooted for construction in the US over the next decade. LNG is being targeted to provide a large proportion of this demand. This dictates new import, gasification and distribution facilities within the US. To serve these facilities, ships to transport the LNG are a pre-requisite since the most suitable exploitable sources are remote from the US mainland.
However, one of the features of today's U.S. market is that it is increasingly supply-led and there are just not enough ships to go around. From the 128 existing ships in the world fleet, around 116 are tied into long-term charter, although current indicators suggest that spot trading is on the increase. Talking at the conference, Graham Marshall, vice president marine support, Lloyd's Register Americas, Inc. said: "Regardless of the use of either spot or long-term charter ships, there is still likely to be a healthy demand that can only be addressed with new LNG ships. Some of these orders have already
been placed. Given the three-year lead-time for an LNG ship, we can expect the strong LNG ship orderbook to increase further still over the next year."
The total world LNG ship fleet, including new orders, as of May 30, 2001, stood at 163 ships or 19,070,161 cu m, of which 26 percent is on order. Ten percent is one year old and a further 10 percent is less than six years old. The number of existing ships in the world fleet is 128.