LNG Carriers comprise of large ships explicitly designed to transport LNG and forms the entire framework of global LNG circulation. Due to increased global liquefaction capacity, the market has evolved over the last decade and is expected to grow further, considering the ever increasing energy demand worldwide.
Unavailability of pipeline transport in major import and export regions like Japan and Australia has lead to the introduction of cryogenic preservation and transportation of LNG- which was entirely based on carrier fleets. However, exploration of non-conventional fuels and the reducing dependence of key consumers on LNG has posed a threat to the carrier fleet market.
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Stabilised spot LNG market in 2014 caused occupation of most of the LNG carrier fleets. Other means of carrying LNG include transportation through vessels. Older vessel models like Moss are still widely used throughout the carrier industry. Technological improvement in the design is a key driver in the market.
LNG carrier demands are largely subjected to Natural Gas quantity in circulation and pipeline transportation pricings. With an expected growth of LNG spot market, a more flexible carrier industry is required, which provides a potential for the growth of small-scale carrier fleets, which are more economical and currently used for isolated power generating stations.
Technological advancements in LNG infrastructure have not only enabled an exploitation of natural gas resources but also made the devices using LNG as a fuel source more efficient, thus, increasing the market for LNG. The demand for LNG, particularly in the residential sector, has been anticipated to grow rapidly in the developing economies of BRICS, not only due to rapid urbanisation but also due to government initiatives like provision of subsidised energy cylinders for the poor. This justifies the expected growth of any industry that is a part of the LNG value chain.
The Market can be segmented on the basis of technology involved and on the basis of scale. Increasing concerns about marine pollution have restrained the popularity of carrier fleets, which poses a direct hindrance to the growth of cryogenic LNG tanker market.
The segmentation of the market can also be done on the basis of demand and supply of LNG. The Containment systems of LNG carriers, on the basis of space and technology, are further divided into Moss tanks, IHI, TGZ Mark III, GT96 and CS1. Moss tanks having the largest market share. The popularity and distribution of tanker models differ from region to region, based on application and the level of insulation required.
The United States, Australia and Russia are key countries that will lead world LNG trade growth over the next few years- thus being the key players in carriers as well. In North America, United States is expected to export shale gas owing to huge domestic production. In spite of Japan’s concern over environmental issues, the pattern of increment in consumption of LNG in power sector can be seen in recent years.
China, India and other emerging economies in APeJ region are likely to come forward as key consumers of natural gas, hence affecting the carrier market.
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Prominent players in the market include Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (Japanese), Kawasaki Heavy Industries (Japanese), Teekay Corporation (Bermudian), MiscBerhad (Malaysian), Maran Gas Maritime Inc. (Greek)- to name a few.
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