The fleet of 150 VLGCs will swell by 13 ships this year and a further 10 in 2014, Braemar’s Wright said. Orders for another four vessels have yet to be confirmed, he said, predicting deliveries of the carriers in 2015.
Evergas, a Copenhagen-based shipper of petrochemical gases, last month ordered vessels that can haul ethane or liquefied natural gas from the U.S., Vice President Ralph Juhl said in an interview Feb. 13. He gave no information on the order’s size.
Petrochemical manufacturer Ineos Group Holdings will charter the ships, each with a capacity of 27,500 cubic meters, under long-duration accords once they enter service starting in 2015 to transport ethane to Norway from the U.S., Juhl said.
LPG from the U.S. is cheaper than the biggest suppliers in the Middle East, which account for about 35 million tons a year of the estimated 85 million-ton global seaborne trade, according to Braemar.
The cost to ship 44,000 tons of LPG to Japan from Saudi Arabia, the benchmark route, advanced 0.6% to $40.59 a ton, according to the Baltic Exchange, a London-based assessor of freight costs. Rates gained in eight of the 10 sessions so far this month after averaging $38.75 in January, the lowest since October 2010, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
VLGCs will be able to navigate the expanded Panama Canal once wider locks under construction open in 2015, according to Braemar. Access to the waterway linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans will shorten voyage times, in turn cutting shipping costs and reducing the expense of exporting LPG to Asia from the U.S., the shipbroker says.