There will be more ships carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG) than oil supertankers within the next five years, according to the latest findings from Global Data.
It is expecting a sustained gold rush for LNG following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with demand increasing 60 per cent year on year in 2022, as Europe scrambled to top up energy supplies ahead of winter and stave off blackouts.
LNG is natural gas that has been reduced to a liquid state, through a process of cooling before it is later converted back into a gas for use.
For the liquefaction process it is cooled to below -150 degrees celsius before being re-gasified.
The group’s report – first cited in Energy Monitor – reveals that emerging markets are also expected to increase LNG demand as they look to decarbonise coal-intensive power and heating sectors.
As it stands, are 635 active LNG tankers operating worldwide, around 100 of which launched in the past three years.
Reflecting the boom in LNG demand, energy companies have planned for a further 524 tankers, which would double the world’s total LNG carrying capacity.
By 2028, all the world’s planned LNG tankers are set to be in operation.
At that point, there would be more LNG tankers in operation than large oil VLCCs (very large crude carriers) and ULCCs (ultra-large crude carriers).
Currently, there are 772 active VLCCs and ULCCs globally, with a further 200 planned and set to be completed by 2028.
Companies based in the US and Qatar have raked in billions supplying LNG to meet Europe and Asia’s energy needs over winter.
According to the Office for National Statistics, LNG imports to the UK reached a record high of 25.6bn cubic meters in 2022, rising 74 per cent on the previous year.
Overall, LNG imports accounted for 45 per cent of natural gas imports across the year, and 35 per cent of demand.
The UK recently agreed a long-term LNG deal with the US to help meet supply demand amid the energy transition to greener supplies.
The government is targeting net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and is aiming to reduce its significantly reliance on fossil fuels and ramp up domestic renewable generations over the coming decades to boost its supply security.
However, LNG is considerably more intensive than domestic pipeline gas or shale gas.
Rystad Energy has calculated that LNG deliveries into Europe from the US typically have an upstream imported emissions intensity greater than 70 kg of CO2 per barrel of oil (boe) equivalent.
In comparison piped gas flows into Europe and the UK from Norway have a CO2 intensity of just over 10 kg CO2 per boe, while Russian piped gas flows have intensities of around 30 kg CO2 per boe.