Since the beginning of this year, ship owners have already ordered 27 LNG-powered vessels, reports Gibson Shipbrokers. Among them, 14 are tankers, 9 container ships, 2 general cargo ships and one is a car carrier. The vessels will be delivered by 2024.

Also, IMO figures show that the order book for LNG-fuelled vessels now stands at 130 ships. This shows that the industry believes in LNG as an important fuel in the sector’s energy transition.

The order book for LNG-powered vessels is mainly seen in the ordering of larger vessels, including very large crude carriers (VLCCs), Suezmax and Aframax tankers, very large container ships and Newcastlemax bulk carriers.

Shell has recently ordered 10 LNG-fuelled VLCC tankers from Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME). The vessels were contracted by Advantage Tankers, AET and International Seaways.

As Gibson explained, tankers and bulk carriers are particularly suited to LNG as a fuel because the bunker tanks can be located on deck, resulting in a limited impact on the ship’s payload.

Larger container ship designs are fitted out with LNG and their large size makes the loss of TEU capacity less of an issue. However, smaller ships are less likely to use LNG-powered drives.

– CMA CGM has recently announced that it will order up to 20 Panamax-sized container ships powered by conventional fuel and fitted out with scrubbers. The reason for this decision is that the 5000 TEU vessels are too small to be equipped with LNG bunker tanks, Gibson said.

Orders for LNG-fuelled bulk carriers also appear to be on the rise, with a number of ship owners placing orders or negotiating their terms.

Rio Tinto has approached two shipyards in China to build up to 12 LNG-fuelled Newcastlemax ships worth about $804 million. The shipyards competing for the contract are Qingdao Beihai Shipbuilding Heavy Industry and New Times Shipbuilding. The ships will transport iron ore between Australia and China and will have a deadweight capacity of 210,000 tonnes. The bulk carriers are due for delivery in 2023.

In turn, Australia’s BHP Shipping has ordered five Newcastlemax LNG-powered bulk carriers (208,000 dwt) from Eastern Pacific Shipping in mid-2020. At the New Times shipyard in China. Anglo American has also taken delivery of four new vessels (190,000 dwt) ordered by U-Ming from Shanghai Waigaoqiao shipyard in China, which will be contracted on a 10-year charter. The vessels are reported to cost $65 million each.

In addition, New Times Shipbuilding has recently announced that negotiations are underway for four 210,000 dwt bulk carriers, with an option for eight more, under the codename Project Himalaya.

By Martin Chomsky (picture: CMA CGM)