The global LNG trade grew by 4.5% from 2020 to 2021, reaching an all-time high of 372.3 MT, says the latest World LNG Report, released by the International Gas Union (IGU). A strong post-pandemic recovery resulted in a surge in LNG imports, even though the annual growth rate of 4.5% remains far from pre-COVID-19 levels of 13.0% in 2019.
The World LNG Report 2022, released on Jul 6 says global LNG markets had an eventful year in 2021, with the market transitioning away from the conditions where supply exceeded COVID-19 lockdown demand and into a period of rapidly tightening market conditions, with resurgent demand rate exceeding supply additions. As a result, 2021 saw an almost complete reversal of many of the pricing trends seen over 2019-2020, with spot LNG prices surging to historic highs and staying above the long-term contract formulas that use either Brent or Henry Hub as their basis.
About 6.9 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of liquefaction capacity was brought online in 2021, increasing global liquefaction capacity to 459.9 MTPA1 at the end of the year, according to the report. The average global utilisation rate in 2021 was 80.4%, compared to 74.6% in 2020. In the first four months of 2022, an additional 12.5 MTPA of liquefaction capacity was brought online, bringing the total global liquefaction capacity to 472.4 MTPA as of April 2022.
On the LNG shipping side, according to IGU report, 57 vessels were delivered in 2021 and seven in the first four months of 2022, with that the global LNG carrier fleet number reached to 641 active vessels as of end-of-April 2022. The total number of vessels includes 45 floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs) and five floating storage units (FSUs). This represents a 10% growth in the fleet size from 2020 to 2021, comparable to a 12% growth in the number of LNG voyages as trade recovered from COVID-19-induced demand reductions.
As of April 2022, global regasification capacity was 901.9 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) across 40 markets. 49.8 MTPA of regasification capacity was added in 2021 with the commissioning of five new import terminals and the completion of five expansion projects at existing terminals, with the greatest addition of 11 MTPA at the Al Zour LNG import facility in Kuwait.
IGU annual LNG report also discussed LNG Bunkering Vessels and Terminals. With the implementation of stricter environmental legislation to reduce emissions at both the local and international levels, a growing number of marine vessel owners are considering the use of cleaner alternative bunker fuels to achieve compliance. With effect from January 2020, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) enforced a new global limit of 0.5% on the sulphur content of ships’ fuel oil. The imposition of a stricter sulphur content cap on marine bunker fuel has spurred the switch to LNG-fuelled vessels through the installation of new systems or conversion where possible, alongside the construction of related bunkering infrastructure.