Clarksons: 147 ports offer LNG bunkering as LNG capable newbuilds hit 37 Pct

A total of 147 ports around the globe can bunker LNG to vessels at the moment and this figure is likely to reach 200 by 2024 as demand continues to grow, estimates from Clarksons Research show.

Bunkering of CMA CGM JACQUES SAADE in Rotterdam; Source: CMA CGM

Europe is leading the way with LNG bunkering infrastructure, with the majority of its top ports offering the service, including those in the Netherlands, Germany, and Norway, followed by major ports in Asia and the Americas.

Over 50 more LNG bunkering facilities are under consideration, Europe accounting for a vast majority of those as well.

Some of the latest projects include those in Egypt as the Suez Canal readies to become an LNG bunkering hub.

Namely, Norwegian small-scale LNG sea transport and bunkering vessels developer Kanfer Shipping has joined forces with Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) and Leth Suez Transit (LETH) to establish a strategic LNG bunkering hub in the Suez Canal by 2025.

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The expansion of the global bunkering capacity comes as LNG capable newbuilds reach 37% of all vessel type newbuilding capacity currently under construction. The interest in LNG as fuel has seen a major upswing in the shipping industry over the recent period with dual-fuel technology being the likely choice for newbuilds.

Owners’ inclination toward LNG as fuel stems from decades of experience in shipping and handling LNG, which is not the case when other alternative fuel options are considered.

The rise in demand has also brought about a record contracting of newbuild LNG carriers, with 104 vessels of 17.4m cbm and $22bn ordered in 2022 as of mid-July, Clarksons’ Managing Director Steve Gordon said in an annual review.

Overall, the LNG carrier fleet capacity has reached 691 vessels (621 over 100,000 cbm) of 103.8m cbm, with an expansion of 3.8% and 4.6% projected for 2022 and 2023. Some 60% of capacity is now owned by independent shipping companies, up from 43% in 2000. The fleet had 362 vessels and 51.9m cbm ten years ago.

Newbuild orderbook accounts for 40% of existing capacity, up from 27% at start 2021, while 32% of existing capacity is steam turbine and there are uncertainties around the impact of EEXI and CII regulations, Gordon added.

The expansion in demand for LNG has been ascribed to a recent geopolitical turmoil as well as the accelerating energy transition push.