LNG carrier owner GasLog sees a positive outlook for the sector driven by both increased production and import demand.
“The outlook for LNG shipping continues to be positive, with significant year-on-year LNG supply increases as new projects come online and ramp up production, particularly in Australia and the US,” GasLog ceo Paul Wogan said in its Q2 results call.
The first half of 2017 saw an 11% growth in global LNG imports to 141m tonnes. The largest increase was seen from China with a 35% jump in LNG imports more an than an additional 4m tonnes making it the third largest consumer of LNG in the world.
The world's two largest consumers Japan and South Korea also saw good growth with 10% and 18% increases respectively.
Wogan saw particular promise in the growing China market where there is a srtong push towards clean energy.
“The Chinese government has set a target for gas to make up 10% of the country's energy mix by 2020 from around 6% today. We expect this additional gas will come from a mix of increased domestic supply, imported pipeline gas, and most importantly, LNG imports, particularly for the large coastal markets,” he said.
China is expected to have 70m tonnes of regasification capacity by 2020 more than double its forecast imports of LNG for 2017.
Wogan in particular noted the possibility for Chinese imports of US gas given an agreement signed in May by the two countries to promote US gas and China's 2018 demand expected to exceed contracted volumes of LNG. Imports of US gas to China would be good for the tonne mile equation with voyages significantly longer than the historical average of 4,000 miles.
“In the US, while we only have the data for Sabine Pass cargoes, the average voyage has been around 7,500 miles, almost double the global long-term average,” he explained.
“Whilst it's premature to extrapolate this data for other US projects currently under construction, the diversity of destinations and demand for US LNG is clearly positive for future shipping demand, as long as sailing distances take available shipping capacity has in the market.”
Meanwhile the demand supply balance for LNG carriers is starting to look more positive with just 15 newbuildings ordered over the last two years, with four of those for Yamal LNG in Russia.
“Based on approximately 120m tonnes of new LNG coming on stream from the beginning of this year through 2020 and using this vessel multipliers, leads to a requirement of around 140 ships or four ships over the current orderbook,” Wogan said. Adding Sabine Pass in the US to equation increases the number of vessels required to 60 over the current orderbook.