June 13 (Reuters) - Spot-market rates for liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers this week set annual records as traders bid up available vessels to meet rising global demand for the chilled gas, according to brokers.
Soaring demand for LNG and buyers shunning Russian cargoes and vessels over its invasion of Ukraine have led to more long-term charters, limiting the supply of vessels to the spot market, said shipbroker and LNG consultancy Poten & Partners.
The fire that knocked out the Freeport LNG gas-processing and export terminal has not affected the increase in spot rates, he said. The plant is out of operation through at least month's end. read more
Spot rates for transporting 160,000 cubic meters of LNG in the Atlantic Basin is $100,000 per day, and $85,000 per day for Asia, or the East-of-Suez, cargoes, said Poten's head of business intelligence Jason Feer.
Both prices are up substantially compared to the average for the year, with year-date average for Asia of $49,000 per day. Day rates bottomed in March and have been very strong since May.
"There has been a substantial increase in long-term charters," said Feer, taking capacity off the spot market. "We've seen some 10-year charters that we hadn't seen for many years previous," he said, declining to name the long-term charterers.
Buyers who were caught short of transport in the last two winters turned to long-term charters. Fewer vessels will be coming off charters in the coming months, keeping supply tight, he said.
"It (the Freeport LNG outage) should have had an impact. A loss of supply anywhere implies a loss of demand, but we didn't see it," said Feer. Instead, spot cargo rates last week rose 4% to 30% depending on the vessel size and location.
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