Twenty-four LNG carriers have exchanged hands during 2022 in deals totalling more than $4bn, making it the busiest year on record for the sale of newbuildings and secondhand vessels.

The bonanza has been boosted by the offloading of at least seven LNG carriers and newbuildings that were previously under the control of Russian shipowner Sovcomflot (SCF Group). Possibly more are in the pipeline or have been concluded.

Affiliates of Idan Ofer-controlled Eastern Pacific Shipping proved a major buyer, snapping up four Sovcomflot vessels and two newbuilding resales originally contracted under the account of a West African trader.

Greek buyers Thenamaris, Alpha Gas and Capital Gas were also out in force, taking seven vessels in total, comprising under-construction vessels and existing LNG carriers.

At least two floating storage and regasification units were committed for sale, with other LNG carriers sold on to serve as the centrepiece for regas projects.

The year also saw the first sale of a floating LNG production unit, with Exmar’s small-scale, 0.5 million tonnes per annum Tango FLNG (built 2017) sold to Italy’s Eni for deployment to the Republic of Congo.

Fourteen 14 LNG carriers were sold in 2021, bolstered by Qatargas’ 10-ship purchase from the Japanese owners it had been working with on long-term time-chartered tonnage. Three vessels were sold in 2020, none in 2019 and two in 2018.

Brokers expect this newfound liquidity in the LNG carrier sale-and-purchase market will continue into 2023, although they question how this sector might develop due to the huge uncertainties in the market.

They said there is interest from Asian buyers for older LNG carriers, and from Middle East parties and others seeking conversion candidates for project business.

In August, TradeWinds reported that producer Nigeria LNG was in the market looking to offload three of seven steam turbine vessels in its existing LNG carrier fleet.

They named Bonny Gas Transport’s Moss-type 137,231-cbm LNG Rivers and 137,098-cbm LNG Sokoto (both built 2002) and 137,065-cbm LNG Bayelsa (built 2003) as the ships on offer.

But Nigeria LNG is understood to have been seeking a trio of modern ships to take in as replacement tonnage. Brokers said virtually no ships are available and the sales process on the steamships has not yet progressed.

Malaysian shipowner MISC is also gradually weeding out older tonnage. TradeWinds reported in August that the shipping subsidiary of state energy giant Petronas had put the 137,489-cbm membrane-type Puteri Intan Satu (built 2002) up for sale. Offers were due in that month, but no sale has been concluded.

Back on Russian tonnage, attention remains focused on Sovcomflot’s 174,100-cbm La Perouse (built 2020), which is said to be in the process of a sale, although a deal has yet to be finalised.

Howe Robinson Partners senior LNG broker Debbie Turner says the market is entering a new phase. Photo: Lucy Hine

Brokers said 2023’s S&P action will most likely centre on what happens in Russia and its war in Ukraine and the incoming Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index and in particular the annual Carbon Intensity Indicator grades.

One broker described S&P for LNG as traditionally being “always very lumpy” and said it could continue to be hectic or completely die next year.

But Howe Robinson Partners’ senior broker on LNG, Debbie Turner, said this marks a new phase for the LNG market.

Speaking at the World LNG Summit & Awards in Athens this month, she said the sector has never really had an S&P business, but now more steam and dual-fuel diesel-electric vessels are appearing for sale — not always openly but often “under the radar”.

Sales of LNG carrier newbuildings and secondhand vessels in 2022

Ship name at time of sale (contracting party) Size (cbm) Built Buyer Price New name/ owner
SCF Timmerman 174,095 2021 Eastern Pacific Shipping $200m Kool Orca/ CoolCo
SCF Barents 174,095 2020 Eastern Pacific Shipping $200m Kool Firn/ CoolCo
SCF Melampus 170,200 2015 Eastern Pacific Shipping $150m Kool Baltic/ CoolCo
SCF Mitre 170,200 2015 Eastern Pacific Shipping $150m Kool Boreas/ CoolCo
HHI Hull No 8196 (Bono Energy) 174,000 2025 Eastern Pacific Shipping $231.7m Unnamed, as yet
HHI Hull No 8197 (Bono Energy) 174,000 2025 Eastern Pacific Shipping $231.7m Unnamed, as yet
Hyundai Samho Hull No 8105 (Sovcomflot) 174,000 2023 Alpha Gas $245m Energy Fidelity
Hyundai Samho Hull No 8106 (Sovcomflot) 174,000 2024 Alpha Gas $245m Unnamed, as yet
Hyundai Samho Hull No (Sovcomflot) 174,000 2024 Alpha Gas $245m Unnamed, as yet
Gemmata 136,985 2004 Shandong Marine Energy mid-$30m Shandong Juniper
Methane Kari Elin 138,209 2004 PT Soechi Lines mid-$30m Prima Concord
Golar Tundra* 170,000 2015 Snam $350m
Independence 170,000 2014 KN — declared purchase option $153.5m
LNG Unity 154,472 2006 Karpowership $40m Karadeniz LNGT Powership Anatolia
Global Energy 74,130 2006 Jovo Energy
BW Singapore* 170,000 2015 Snam $400m
Tango FLNG** 16,100 2017 Eni $646.4m
Golar Arctic 140,648 2003 Snam $288m
Kmarin Emerald 154,983 2007 Thenamaris Just over $70m Cool Rider
British Sapphire 155,000 2008 Thenamaris mid-$70m Cool Rover
Tristar Ruby 155,000 2008 Thenamaris mid-$70m
Methane Shirley Elisabeth 145,127 2007 PT Sillo Maritime Perdana $54m Golden Isaia
Methane Heather Sally 145,000 2007 Huaxia Financial Leasing $50m — with sale & leaseback deal
Trader 138,208 2002 Capital Gas $26m-$28m Trader II