Chartering activity for LNG carriers has picked up sending charter rates higher for both spot, but particularly time-charter tonnage with floating storage starting to come into play.
Brokers highlighted that the last week saw a surge in fixtures with Affinity LNG reporting that nine spot vessels were concluded across both the Atlantic and Pacific basins in the five days from 9 May.
Pareto said this compares with around 20 spot fixtures per month this year.
Daily spot rates for modern LNG carriers are closing on the six-figure mark up across all basins at levels in the mid-$90,000 per day range.
Tri-fuel diesel electric (TFDE) vessels saw the greatest rises with rates jumping to around $65,000 per day while steam turbine LNG carriers nudged higher at levels in the mid-$30,000 per day.
But LNG carrier owners highlighted that these are ballpark numbers. One said a TFDE vessel’s size and boil-off rates can create a $20,000 per day difference in rates paid.
Brokers highlighted the lack of berth space at European terminals to discharge shipments as Europe stocks up on US cargoes.
Chartering sources said some charterers are choosing to hold off on discharging cargoes and floating shipment speculatively in the hope that prices will rise in Europe. Demand is also rising from Asian buyers such as those in Thailand and Bangladesh.
“With achievable prices in NW Europe so low, traders are being forced to either float cargoes for an extended period or divert cargoes to Asia,” Affinity said. “This is increasing tonne-mile demand.”
Market players report improved sentiment among LNG carrier owners.
One pointed to the volume of cargoes needing tonnage but said shipowners and charterers are blurring the picture so as not to declare their hands.
This week three major charterers are understood to have emerged for LNG carrier tonnage to fix on one or multi-year periods. “This week is going to be really interesting,” one LNG chartering manager said.
Affinity pegged one-year charter rates for modern two-stroke LNG tonnage at over $136,000 per day, with three-year period deals at close to $120,000 per day.
The broker also reported that a modern LNG carrier had been fixed for three years from 2023 at a rate “well in excess of $100,000 per day. Rates of between $105,000 to $117,000 per day have been rumoured.
Industry sources named the vessel as Maran Gas Maritime’s 174,000-cbm Isabella (built 2021) and said Norwegian energy company Equinor had extended its charter on the vessel.