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Liquefied Gas Shipping Rates Rise to Record, Morgan Stanley Says

Charter rates to ship liquefied natural gas for a period of 12-months or more surged to a record, Morgan Stanley said.

A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, hired out LNG carrier Maersk Methane to London-based BP Plc for three years at $140,000 a day, Ole Storer, a Morgan Stanley analyst, said in an e-mailed report today. Maersk is the biggest publicly traded shipping company by revenue in Europe and the U.S. according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Louise Westh, a spokeswoman for the company’s LNG division, declined to comment.

Nigeria LNG hired another gas tanker owned by Gothenburg, Sweden-based Stena Bulk, in a four-year deal worth $130,000 daily, according to Morgan Stanley.

The world’s 372 LNG carriers are the most expensive to hire for a duration of 12 months or more among the global fleet of over 30,130 tankers, container ships and dry-bulk vessels.

Higher Asian demand for LNG shipped from farther-away Atlantic Ocean-based countries boosted distances traveled, lengthening voyage times to curb supply and exacerbate a shortage of available ships, according to Braemar Seascope Ltd., a London-based shipbroker. Countries like Nigeria are also raising LNG output, requiring additional ships to export it, Debbie Turner, director of the shipbroker’s LNG division said by phone.

“This is the highest-ever sustained rate paid for an LNG carrier,” Turner said.

The previous record was $125,000 a day for a three-year hire, agreed in October, according to Arctic Securities ASA, an Oslo-based investment bank.

2011 Contracts

Contracts for 51 of 59 LNG carriers on order at shipbuilding yards worldwide were signed in 2011, data from Clarkson Research Services Ltd., a unit of the world’s largest shipbroker, shows. Up to 15 percent of the fleet was potentially available for short-term hire of up to five years’ duration, with the remainder employed for terms of around 20 years serving dedicated projects, Turner said.

Morgan Stanley estimates one-year hire rates for LNG carriers that haul 150,000 cubic meter cargoes of LNG climbed 8.3 percent last week to $130,000 daily. That’s more than four times average rates in 2009, when rates slumped to $32,946 daily, the bank said.

LNG is natural gas that has been cooled to a liquid state. About 30 percent of natural gas consumed in 2009 was traded internationally, with 28 percent shipped by sea from 17 countries, according to Clarkson.

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