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Scarce LNG Cargoes Seen Curbing Shipping as Africa Output Needed

A lack of cargoes is limiting the market to ship liquefied natural gas as production needs to resume in Nigeria and start in Angola for rates to increase, according to RS Platou Markets AS.

A force majeure declaration in Nigeria cut demand for 10 vessels, Egypt is reducing cargoes to eight this year from as many as 70, and maintenance in Norway is removing about 70 more cargoes a year, Herman Hildan, an Oslo-based analyst at the investment-banking unit of Norway’s largest shipbroker, said in an e-mailed report today. A new facility in Angola expected to supply as many as 90 cargoes a year is delayed, with the seven vessels dedicated to the project adding to competition for spot cargoes, he said.

“Low cargo availability is dampening the spot market currently,” Hildan said. “High global gas price spreads strongly incentivize inter-basin trade, however, for spot market LNG rates to strengthen we believe the key is normalization of Nigerian production by mid-March as some industry sources expect and successful startup in Angola during the summer.”

Beyond this year, exports from the U.S. may require as many as 200 more vessels, compared with the current fleet of 380, according to the report. The U.S. Department of Energy is considering 16 applications to export LNG equal to 50 percent of current annual trade, Platou estimates. A December study showed exports would benefit the economy, and the government said it would decide on the applications after taking responses through Feb. 25, Hildan said in the report.

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