StealthGas’ Harry Vafias predicts solid LPG prospects through to 2020

Greece’s StealthGas yesterday took delivery of its last newbuilding LPG vessel, completing an extensive, seven-year long newbuild program.

The vessel delivered is a 22,000 cu m ice-class, semi-refrigerated, scrubber-fitted LPG carrier called Eco Freeze.

The delivery concludes the company’s expansion phase, which commenced in 2011 and totalled the acquisition of 26 newbuilding LPG vessels. Twenty were delivered from Japanese yards and six from South Korean yards.

NASDAQ-listed StealthGas now has a fleet of 56 vessels, comprising 52 LPG carriers with a total capacity of 329,149 cu m of which three are chartered in, plus three MR product tankers and one aframax crude tanker.

Speaking with Splash today, StealthGas CEO Harry Vafias said the market fundamentals of the LPG sector point towards a decent freight rate environment for the coming two years.

“The market has improved dramatically since Q1 last year,” Vafias said, pointing out that the global orderbook for the LPG sector now stands at just eight ships, while 25% of the fleet is over 20 years of age.

“Demand continues to increase thus we expect at least two good years going forward,” a confident Vafias said.

Vafias said it was unlikely his company would be ordering any new ships soon unless a very good price came about or a specific customer needed a custom order for a specific trade.

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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