LNG ‘to remain in demand’ despite 2030 target

LNG icebreaker Christophe de Margerie. Credit: DSME

The shipping industry can expect to see a steady increase in the number of liquid natural gas (LNG) carriers and newbuilds in the global fleet in the near term, thanks to a number of growing economies that are dependent on natural gas – that was the forecast backed by data presented by classification society Bureau Veritas (BV), during a conference in Paris, France last week.

The ever-growing economies of Japan, South Korea and China – as well as certain African states – would ensure demand, explained Mattieu de Tugny executive vice president (Marine & Offshore) at BV.

The BV data forecast an increase of 39% in the number of LNG carriers of over 40,000 cbm on the market by 2022, compared to 2017 levels, with the number of newbuild LNG carriers on the order books totalling 128 over the period 2020-2022. This was in the face of emission-reduction requirements imposed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for 2030, requiring a reduction of green-house gas (GHG) emissions by 40% for which LNG would not comply, as the fuel provides only a 20% reduction of GHG.

De Tugny noted that it was not only LNG carriers but also LNG-powered vessels that were continuing to hit the market. Marseille-based ship management company CMA CGM pledged to build a 20-strong LNG-powered container fleet by 2022, with the first vessel, the 23,000 teu CMA CGM Jaques Saade launched in Shanghai in September 2019.

With the expansion of commercial shipping activity in the Arctic, most notably the exploration of the Yamal peninsular gas fields, de Tugny’s presentation showed that the emergence of an Icebreaker-class LNG carriers is a natural step – a trend borne out by the launch of ice-breaker Christophe de Margerie, the product of a joint venture between Sovcomflot and energy giant Total and part of 17 Yamal ARC7 ships to be delivered.

De Tugny’s sounded a positive note, noting that the next ten years may see the development and emergence of an organic or synthetic LNG with reduced emissions. De Tugny observed that this would be an ideal solution to all parties, because LNG fuel is not only the most established alternative to heavy fuel oil but also the safest in comparison to others on the market.