A weak spot market and strong time-charter demand for LNG carriers is leading to a wide disconnect in rates paid on shipping, brokers said.

Affinity (Shipping) reported that just four spot fixtures were logged globally during the week starting 18 July.

The broker said relet tonnage coming on to the market was crushing any sign of recovery for spot fixture.

On Friday Affinity put spot rates for modern two-stroke tonnage at $70,000 per day across all basins, with tri-fuel diesel-electric (TFDE) ships at between $40,000 and $45,000 daily followed by steam turbine tonnage at between $30,000 and $35,000 per day.

On Monday Spark Commodities put its Spark30S Atlantic rate estimate for a TFDE LNG carrier down $1,500 per day to $36,500 per day, while its corresponding Spark25S for the Pacific also fell slight to $46,500 per day.

But in contrast owners and shipbrokers report that charterers are prepared to pay up almost double this for modern time-charter tonnage that will provide them with cover over the coming winter period.

Industry players said Gail (India) paid between $120,000 per day to $130,000 per day to fix the 173,400-cbm Sevilla Knutsen (built 2010) for eight months.

The vessel is understood to be a relet from a Spanish charterer.

Shell is also reported to have sublet two LNG carriers out on time-charter for periods of up to one year.

While the restart of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline on Thursday allayed some immediate fears on European gas shortage, shipbroker Fearnley LNG highlighted that some European gas volumes intended for winter are being drawn down, reducing restocking time for buyers in the region.

The broker said this has intensified the race to refill storages.

“We see a massive disconnect between spot and term rates which makes life tricky for both owners and charterers at this exact time,” the broker said.

Affinity said the long-term market is at “an interesting crossroads”.

The broker said charterers are “baulking” at paying up for shipping and with the European holiday season in full swing the market may see a pause for a few weeks.

“If ships start getting snapped up quickly again, owners’ bullishness will be vindicated and renewed,” the broker said. “If charterers become more circumspect, then we face a stand-off.”