Gas traders are scrambling to find enough LNG carriers ahead of the start of the next heating season amid the European Union's own rush to reduce its dependence on Russian energy.
Among those seeking LNG carrier capacity are TotalEnergies, Shell, and China's Unipec, according to a Financial Times report that cited LNG shipowners and brokers.
As a result of the rush, charter rates for LNG carriers have soared to the highest in 10 years, the FT noted in its report, to $120,000 per day, according to data from Clarksons Platou Securities.
Some are buying LNG carriers: Abu Dhabi's Adnoc recently purchased three newbuild LNG carriers in anticipation of greater global LNG exports. The vessels have a capacity of 175,000 cubic meters each. This is significantly higher than the average capacity of the current Adnoc fleet, at 137,000 cubic meters.
Meanwhile, the demand patterns in LNG are becoming problematic because of the European Union's mad dash for alternative gas imports: according to Rystad Energy, if the EU pursues its plans to reduce Russian gas imports by two-thirds by the end of the year, the global supply of liquefied natural gas will fall short of demand by as much as 26 million metric tons.
"By shunning Russian gas, Europe has destabilized the entire global LNG market that began the year with a precarious balance after a tumultuous 2021," Rystad Energy said.
It is also largely because of the EU's supply reorientation that gas buyers are in a rave to secure LNG carriers.
"The market has exploded. It's very hard to find any ships with length [of availability] in the market. It's going through the roof," Oystein Kalleklev, head of Flex LNG and Avance Gas, told the FT.
There seems to be no way that the LNG carrier crunch will let up anytime soon, either. New LNG carriers take years to build, and no one expected Europe to suddenly become the biggest buyer of U.S. liquefied gas in a matter of months.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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