Energy major BP has emerged as the winner in a battle to secure one of the only remaining available LNG carriers for 2022 paying a six-figure daily rate to secure the Cool Company (CoolCo) vessel for one year.
The LNG shipping market is alive with chatter that BP is paying $190,000 per day for the 160,000-cbm tri-fuel diesel-electric (TFDE) Golar Ice (built 2015) which it has fixed in a one-year deal.
The vessel, which is ending its time-charter with Glencore in October, had attracted what one market player described as “fierce competition” from several other charterers keen secure tonnage to give them winter coverage.
Brokers said the vessel was the last open TFDE LNG carrier from an independent owner for this year and the rate being paid by BP is representative of where the market is at present.
CoolCo hinted in its results call on 1 September that it expected to fix two of its TFDE vessels that were due to end charters at healthy rates. The company is believed to have locked away the 160,000-cbm Golar Bear (built 2014) earlier for one year to a Japanese trader at around $140,000 per day.
Two more of CoolCo’s eight vessel TFDE fleet are due to fall open in the first quarter of 2023.
Spot and term charter rates for LNG carriers are on fire as charterers hoover up any tonnage available ahead of the winter period.
This year heightened concerns over energy security have sent charter rates rocketing skywards as European buyers become increasingly alarmed over gas supplies, with the apparent damage to the Nord Stream 1 pipeline this week on fuelling fears.
In addition, US producer Freeport LNG is expected to restart its liquefaction plant this quarter which will take more vessels, already under the control of portfolio players, out of the market.
The bulk of LNG carriers are now in the hands of traders and portfolio players.
These charterers are proving increasingly unwilling to sublet the vessels — or what one broker described this week as “portfolio player vessel hording” — and risk not being able to lift a cargo which is exacerbating the tightness in the market.
Waiting times at European terminals is also tying up tonnage.
Brokers said spot rates for all types of LNG carrier tonnage, including the older steam turbine ships are now at over $100,000 per day.
Modern two-stroke tonnage is being booked at rates of over $300,000 per day.
On Friday Spark Commodities put its spot charter estimate for a 160,000-cbm TFDE LNG carrier trading in the Atlantic region to $318,250 per day, with its estimate for a similar vessel in the Pacific at $276,750 per day.