Global LNG freight rates stable despite recent vessel availability fluctuation


Global LNG freight rates have remained steady throughout this year, despite the number of LNG vessels available in both the Pacific and Atlantic spot markets fluctuating in 2024.

At the start of the year the number of available spot vessels in the Atlantic basin stood at five ships, before dipping to around three to four in March. In April, the number of available vessels soared to the highest recorded — between 2022 to 2024 — of around 13 to 14 vessels. In the past week, the number of available vessels has declined to around 12 to 13.

Similarly, the Pacific has also seen swings in vessel availability, starting January at around 10 to 11 vessels before reaching a peak of around 14 in March and then rising further to around 16 in April, before falling back in the past week to around 12 to 13 ships.

However, despite these fluctuations in availability, combined with ongoing shipping constraints via the Panama and Suez canals, the market has found a new equilibrium and shipping rates remaining steady throughout 2024.

Platts, a part of S&P Global Commodity Insights, assessed the US Gulf Coast LNG freight rates to Northwest Europe at 67 cents/MMBtu on April 25, up 1 cent/MMBtu on the day but down 2 cents/MMBtu on the week.

USGC freight rates for LNG to NWE have averaged around 72 cents/MMBtu throughout all of 2024, so far.

At the same time, the USGC-Japan/Korea most economic route was assessed at $1.52/MMBtu on April 26, while the route via the Suez Canal and round the Cape of Good Hope were assessed at $2.21/MMBtu and $2.08/MMBtu, respectively. The most economic route to Japan/Korea has averaged $1.65/MMBtu for 2024 so far, versus $2.40/MMBtu via the Suez Canal and $2.29/MMBtu round the cape

However, market sources have also warned that, if geopolitical tensions escalate further in the longer term, it could be severely detrimental to the LNG freight market.

In the situation where there is the closure of the strait [of Hormuz in Iran], there is not even a question this will affect freight rates,” one shipbroker said. “With LNG exporters like QatarEnergy, I can’t even imagine what would happen to rates, it’s too complicated to expect this scenario.”

Source: Platts