Greeks dominate in orders for new LNG carriers
By Nikos Bardounias
It appears that Greek shipowners have changed course toward liquefied natural gas carriers, as, according to shipbroking agency Clarkson, eight Greek shipowners have spent $7.4 billion on orders for 38 such vessels, accounting for almost half of all global orders.
An LNG carrier costs about $200 million and Greek shipowners are behind 46 percent of all 82 outstanding orders. Chartering rates for LNG ships currently stand near $130,000 per day, while in the last quarter of the year they are expected to drop to $125,000.
Fearnley Securities AS estimates that LNG freight rates will soar to $150,000 per day in the first quarter of 2013. “Greeks could not possibly be absent from a sector that up to 2030 is expected to be carrying the second most important fuel in the world and currently employs a fleet of 434 vessels,” a shipping analyst who specializes in funding investment in LNG carriers told Kathimerini.
The LNG carrier market is a very promising one as consumption of this form of fuel has been rising rapidly in recent years. Shipping analysts say that this section of the market is showing significant growth thanks to the discovery of new reserves in Africa and Australia, which is threatening the monopolies of the traditional oil and natural gas powers in the Middle East and in Europe.
The Greek firms that have a dynamic presence in the LNG sector are the following:
- The Angelicoussis group has ordered 11 ships worth over $2 billion. It operates another five LNG carriers through its Maran Gas Maritime company.
- GasLog, controlled by Peter Livanos, has ordered eight ships in an investment program of over $1.6 billion. Delivery of the carriers under construction will start from 2013 and be completed in 2015.
- George Prokopiou’s Dynagas has orders for seven vessels. It already operates three LNG carriers.
- George Economou’s Cardiff Marine has ordered four ships.
- Thenamaris, owned by Dinos Martinos, has three LNG carriers under construction.
- Christos Kanellakis’s Alpha Tankers has ordered two such vessels.
- Almi Gas, owned by Costas Fostiropoulos, has also placed two orders for LNG ships.
- Tsakos Energy Navigation has ordered one carrier and maintains an option for one more, but is planning to have another eight LNG carriers constructed in the next six years.
Allied Shipbroking argues that Greek shipowners have this year spent about $2.8 billion on 163 used ships out of the 805 LNG carriers that have changed hands internationally this year. The shipbroking firm’s data show Greeks are also investing in dry-bulk carriers, on which they have spent $1.4 billion for 79 used ships within 2012. Some $852 million has been invested in buying 58 tankers and $488 million for the purchase of 26 container ships.