LNG bunkering accelerates fast

While delegates attending ABS’s seminar on future fuels at Nor-Shipping last week were told it had taken 10 years to create the LNG fuelling infrastructure for just 1% of the global fleet, all of a sudden the pick up in gas for the merchant fleet is accelerating fast.

Analysts at Alphatanker have dramatically revised their LNG bunkering projections. In the 14 months since the AXS Marine unit last analysed the sector, Alphatanker now believes there will be 101 LNG bunkering locations around the world by 2025, up from the 27 it had forecast last year.

The pick up is also being recorded on the LNG bunkering barge front with Alphatanker noting there are now nine coastal LNG bunker barges in operation ranging from 200 to 14,000 cu m while there are another 19 which are on order and another four vessels awaiting a final investment decision.

Meanwhile, Martin Wold, head of the Alternative Fuels Insight (AFI) platform at class society DNV GL, presented on Friday latest stats for the LNG-fuelled fleet.

“There are now 163 LNG-fuelled ships in operation and a further 155 ships on order,” he said at a briefing on the final day of Nor-Shipping, the giant Norwegian shipping exhibition. “Order intake for LNG-fuelled vessels has remained steady for several years now at around 40 ships per year. However, in 2019 we have already passed 40 new orders in the first five months, which could be a sign that the pace for LNG fuel investments is picking up.”

The AFI platform shows that installed LNG tank volume will more than triple from around 100,000 cu m today to the end of 2020. This represents large tanks in large vessels, propelled by the introduction of LNG fuel in the cruise, container and tanker segments.

“The 2020 sulphur cap seems to have accelerated LNG adoption, especially for larger ships, which could be good news for the industry, increasing fuel availability and improving asset utilisation,” Wold said.

Despite the exponential growth seen this year, Alphatanker warned in its latest weekly report that pricing-wise LNG still was not competitive.

“[C]onsidering the fact that LNG-propelled tankers are still around 20% more expensive than conventional vessels, LNG will remain marginal fuel until it can compete with conventional bunkers on a vessel lifecycle basis,” Alphatanker concluded.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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