The global floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade reached 236 million tonnes in the first nine months of 2018, up by 7.1% from the same period of 2017 on a combination of robust Asian demand and new supplies of LNG from Australia and the USA, said Höegh LNG.
The provider of LNG transportation and services said that for the full year, LNG trade is expected to reach around 320 million tonnes, up by more than 7% from 2017.
Increasing Chinese demand continues to be a key driver for expanding LNG volumes. LNG imports by China were 37.7 million tonnes during the first nine months of 2018, up 46% from the same period in 2017 and pointing towards full-year imports of more than 55 million tonnes.
"That makes China the world’s secondlargest importer of LNG, second only to Japan with estimated imports of 85 million tonnes for 2018," it said.
China’s 20 land-based regasification terminals currently have a combined monthly regasification capacity of 5.6 million tonnes, which is expected to be insufficient for meeting seasonal demand swings and for supporting the current rate of growth in demand.
In response, and to meet additional natural gas demand with sufficient regasification capacity, the floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) Höegh Esperanza has been chartered to CNOOC and will operate as an FSRU in Tianjin.
LNG imports through FSRUs increased by 26% from the second to the third quarter of 2018. At 10.1 million tonnes, however, FSRU imports were 6% lower than in the same period of last year.
Imports to Bangladesh, Pakistan, Turkey and Brazil are higher than last year, while growing indigenous production of natural gas continues to dampen Argentinian and Egyptian LNG imports. Excluding Egypt, FSRU imports were on par with last year’s levels in the third quarter.
The final investment decision by LNG Canada on 1 October 2018 surpassed new liquefaction capacity sanctioned in 2016 and 2017 combined. The first two trains of this development will have a production capacity of 14 million tonnes when it comes online in 2025, making Canada a top-10 LNG producer globally with the ability to deliver LNG to Asia at highly competitive prices compared with other suppliers.
What is more, the final investment decision was taken without foundation contracts with third-party customers, reflecting expectations of significant future LNG demand growth and positioning project developers to serve as a bridge to an increasingly diverse set of buyers without the ability to sign long-term contracts with suppliers.
The combination of increasing volumes of LNG being offered to an expanding set of buyers is the main demand driver for FSRUs. Five FSRU contract awards have been announced in 2018, up from only two short-term contracts last year.
FSRUs currently serve 22 import projects globally, while ten to twelve projects have signed up FSRU capacity and are preparing to commence LNG imports over the next two years. In addition, comes a significant number of FSRU projects still in the selection process.
The global FSRU fleet consisted of 29 units at 30 September 2018. Thirteen FSRUs, including one LNGCto-FSRU conversion, are currently under construction. Of these, three are not due for delivery until 2021 or later.
LNG carrier spot rates have increased to record levels of USD 180-200,000 per day on a combination of fastgrowing LNG supply and longer sailing distances, resulting in an increase in fleet utilisation.
The strong development in the LNG carrier spot market, combined with expectations of continued strength, appear to discourage efforts by certain LNG shipowners to enter the FSRU market. Consequently, the number of potential FSRU operators in the FSRU market in the future has been reduced, positively impacting the competitive situation in this market.
Hoegh LNG Holdings owns and operates floating LNG import terminals, and floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs).
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