Boom in small-size opens up opportunities

Global energy consumption is going to increase, and a large part of this is expected to be natural gas, which is the cleanest fossil fuel that exists. The demand is driven by several factors, among them available resources, price and environmental aspects. The natural gas reserves are, however, often located far away from the consumers, and for efficient transportation, the natural gas is liquefied. Thus, LNG is taking up an increasing share of the natural gas markets.

regional tradeEmerging markets for regional LNG transport (click for larger view)The global LNG trade is on the rise and new markets are emerging. The demand growth in some major markets has had a slump in recent years in line with the general world economy, but the LNG supply is increasing and in the longer run the market is expected to grow significantly.  To serve new markets the demand for local and regional distribution is growing fast. This needs to be serviced by midsize vessels, but very few such vessels exist today. The LNT A-BOX® containment system has been developed with this in mind.

New ships needed

LNG has traditionally been shipped across the oceans in large ships to large-scale LNG terminals connected to gas grids, i.e. large “hubs”. However, with the development of the LNG markets, there is a growing demand at the "spokes", the regional and local transport of LNG. This highlights, however, a large gap in the existing LNG fleet: Most new and existing ships are of the traditional type large-scale size. In fact, the standard conventional LNG carrier size has continued to increase, driven by the economy of scale and expected increase in distances to be transported.

New and emerging markets will however often not be able to accommodate and utilize large-scale LNG carriers, as they cannot defend investments in large-scale infrastructure. Thus, they will be limited both in terms of storage capacity and draft restrictions. Such smaller terminals will need to be served by smaller parcels of LNG. This LNG will have to be carried on small and medium size vessels, and may come from re-loading our of large import terminals or directly from the production facilities.

More flexibility

LNG fleet graphic1There are almost no mid-size LNG vesselsThe LNT A-BOX® system will greatly benefit the need for mid-size vessels. It is flexible and well suited for the mid-scale segment and can be unrestrictedly be adopted into hulls of all sizes, fully compatible with a wide variety of trade requirements. The idea behind LNT A-BOX® was to develop a simple and efficient cargo system that can be built by a wider range of shipyards, especially in China. The system is based core experience with different types of gas carriers, and knowledge of the regulatory framework and its background, including the history of seaborne transportation of liquefied gases.

The LNT A-BOX® containment system gives ship-owners around the globe an easier opportunity to build LNG carriers and infrastructure according to their needs and to enter the LNG market. The cost will be lower than for traditional LNG carriers, and the vessels can be better built to serve the shorter distribution networks. This market will grow substantially during the coming years as more distribution terminals come online, and the need for a wider range of carriers can now be fulfilled.