Charter rates for spot trading tri-fuel diesel-electric (TFDE) LNG carriers are climbing as the availability of their larger, more modern two-stroke cousins evaporates.

Shipbroker Clarksons said average spot earnings for a 160,000-cbm LNG carrier jumped 39% in the last week to $81,500 per day.

The broker cited the requirement for west-east voyages and the limited tonnage available.

It said confidence that US liquefaction project Freeport LNG, which suffered an explosion on 8 June and temporarily shut down, will restart in October is putting a cap on any vessel relet activity as charterers opt to hang on to tonnage rather than offer it out in the market.

Affinity (Shipping) said most of the activity in the past week has been on TFDE vessels recording that three spot and one period fixture were reported.

The broker quoted daily spot rates for 160,000-cbm TFDE ships trading long haul in the Atlantic basin at $105,000 with 174,000-cbm two-strokes at $140,000.

It detailed six-month term rates for TFDE vessels at $166,000 per day with two-stroke LNG carriers now able to command $218,000 per day.

The broker said no two-stroke vessels are being shown as available in the market. Affinity references “a difficult October” period onward.

Similarly, Howe Robinson Partners described two-stroke LNG carriers as “sold out for winter”. The broker said the largest available vessel size to charter for multi-month business is shift down to the 165,000-cbm vessels and below.

“While we have recently seen little interest in less efficient vessels, on the back of an absence of more modern ships we are now seeing renewed interest in TFDEs despite the ever-rising price of bunker fuels,” Howe Robinson said.

With the market tightening, the broker said owners are looking to fix for longer periods. It said charterers offers to take tonnage on six-month hires are “either brushed away or countered with very high rates.”

“We anticipate that charterers that are unable to fix winter tonnage will thus soon push their requirements into the market and start fuelling the rise in spot rates as we quickly approach the winter period.”

Evidence of Europe’s continuing need and desire to restock its gas storage ahead of the winter amid concerns over Russian gas are ongoing.

Today the UK is due to receive a rare cargo which originated in Australia.

Kpler shows that the 174,000-cbm Attalos (built 2021) is scheduled to arrive at the Grain LNG terminal to the east of London.

The data analyst said the ship received the North West Shelf cargo via a ship-to-ship transfer from the 174,000-cbm Patris (built 2018) off Malaysia and picked up further volumes from the 174,000 BW Lesmes (built 2021) which was carrying a cargo from Oman LNG.

Reuters said that from January to July European LNG imports topped 75 million tonnes, almost reaching the level for the whole of 2021. But the bulk of these volumes came from the US.