LNG Tankers May Idle for Years as Fleet Expands

Some liquefied-natural-gas tankers may lie idle for years because too many are being built as the global recession erodes demand for the fuel.

The CHART OF THE DAY shows how the number of LNG tankers sitting at anchor, the red line, has expanded in line with the world fleet, in white, indicating insufficient cargoes. “Some of these ships will remain long-term unemployed, for three or four years in the worst case,” said Morten Frisch, senior partner at Morten Frisch Consulting, an East Horsley, U.K.-based consultant to the LNG industry. Algeria, Nigeria, Qatar, Indonesia, Egypt and Equatorial Guinea are leading cutbacks in LNG cargoes as demand weakens, JPMorgan Chase & Co. said in a report yesterday. LNG exports fell 5.5 percent to 24.1 billion cubic feet a day in January and February compared with a year earlier, the bank said. The plunge in business may encourage some owners to lease out their vessels for storage, Frisch said. Others may mothball ships, he said.

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