LNG World Shipping’s annual research into LCM demand reveals the usual picture of strong demand in Asia and belt-tightening in Europe amid a general eastward shift.
That movement may slow next year, when up to three US export projects ship their first cargoes. Atlantic Basin yards have long held out for an upturn in opportunistic repair contracts once US exports gather pace.
Singapore-based Keppel Shipyard was the busiest player in LCM work last year, completing an impressive 30 contracts. By September this year, it had handled 13 additional LNG carrier repairs.
Compatriots Sembcorp Marine (Sembmarine) and Keppel are locked in a long-term battle to secure most LCM contracts. Sembmarine led in 2015, handling 34 repairs against Keppel’s 27. Last year, when Keppel struck out ahead, Sembmarine completed 18 contracts.
However, both Singapore yards are making bullish predictions about additional LNG carrier repair contracts to year-end. “With further jobs secured for second-half 2017, we are on track to surpass the total number of LNG vessels we serviced last year,” a Sembmarine spokesman says.
However, the busiest shipyard so far this year is not in Asia, but in the Middle East. As of September, Qatar-based Nakilat-Keppel Offshore & Marine (N-KOM) had repaired 16 LNG carriers – just one more than Sembmarine.
And N-KOM is gearing up for a busy two years. Qatari shipowner Nakilat is putting a third of its fleet into drydock in the next two years, all of them at the N-KOM shipyard in Ras Laffan.
Two other Middle East shipyards that pitch for LNG carrier LCM contracts, Dubai Drydocks and Oman Drydock Co, declined repeated requests for data for our survey.
In Europe, Spain’s Navantia has reported slowing LNG LCM demand, having handled seven LNG and three LPG contracts to September. The state-owned company carried out 16 LNG repairs and maintenance contracts last year.
However, France-based Damen Brest has gained LNG LCM business, landing four contracts by September this year – having handled no LNG LCM work last year.
Navantia is more hopeful, looking ahead to year-end. “The second half, especially the fourth quarter, looks much brighter, with three LNG dockings confirmed and much more commercial activity in the market,” a spokesman says.
The ships drydocked at Navantia in the first half of this year are BP Shipping’s 155,000 m³ British Emerald and 138,000 m³ British Trader, now renamed British Merchant, BW’s BW Boston, K Line’s 147,608 m³ Celestine River, GasLog's Methane Nile Eagle, Teekay LNG’s 137,814 m³ Hispania Spirit and the Hyproc Shipping-owned 75,500 m³ LNG carrier Cheikh El Mokrani.
One notable contract was a major refit on board the Engie-chartered, BW-owned, 138,059 m³ BW Boston as it underwent scheduled maintenance at the Navantia shipyard in Ferrol, northern Spain.
The 2003-built, steam turbine-powered LNG carrier completed a bows-to-stern makeover, replacing its electrical systems, refitting the engines, cargo containment systems, the boiler systems and the bridge systems.
BW awarded the electrical refit – which stretched to 4,000 m of new cables – to Kongsberg. Samson fitted the vessel with new mooring systems, using HPME ropes in a formation that enables BW Boston to transit the expanded Panama Canal.
The refit involved 30 crew, 30 subcontractors and up to 100 shipyard and support staff. Most scheduled refits cost some US$4Bn-6Bn. Engie and BW confirmed that the BW Boston refit “cost significantly more than a standard scheduled refurbishment”.
Engie commissioned a second major refit for another chartered LNG carrier, this time at Damen Shiprepair Brest (DSBr). Engie and operator Mitsui OSK LNG Transport (Europe) chose DSBr to complete maintenance on board the 2010-built, 155,000 m³ GDF Suez Point Fortin while it was gassed-up.
The contract of works included a full in-water survey by divers, replacing wire mooring cables with rope, replacing a radar dome and completing a full class survey on the main boilers.
DSBr had to prepare extensively for the constraints that come with working on a gassed-up LNG carrier, seeking permits and approvals. However, GDF Suez Point Fortin was back in service and fully operational after two weeks of works.
Other contracts this year include a renewal survey maintenance programme on Engie’s 2007-built, 154,500 m³ Gaselys. DSBr also worked on that vessel’s 2006-built sistership Provalys. It previously worked on two midsize LNG carriers: Engie’s 2004-built, 74,130 m³ Global Energy and Gazocean’s 39,000 m³ Tellier.
In Singapore, Keppel Shipyard has invested heavily in upgrading its repair capability for LNG carriers and LPG vessels. The yard has invested nearly S$500,000 (US$370,417) in setting up a second cleanroom at its shipyard in Benoi. This has doubled Keppel’s capacity, enabling the yard to handle four LNG/LPG vessels’ cryogenic pumps and valves at a time. Keppel has a third cleanroom at its shipyard at Tuas.
Recent projects of note include Keppel’s intermediate survey and docking in September of LNG Venus, the first of the two Sayaendo LNG carriers built for Mitsui OSK and Osaka Gas.
“The Sayaendo LNG carriers were developed based on increasing demand for LNG and on environmental considerations, and against the background of the shale gas revolution in the US,” a Keppel spokesman says.
“The Sayaendo class of vessels’ key features include reduction of hull weight, improvement in transportation efficiency and operational versatility, improved fuel consumption, and reduction in CO2 and NOx emissions.”
Keppel’s maintenance works on the 2011-built, 155,691 m³ LNG Venus included maintenance of the cargo-handling systems and the overhaul of the valves, cargo pumps and spray pumps. Works in drydock included blasting, painting, survey and inspection.
LNG Venus arrived in Keppel Shipyard on 11 September and was due be delivered in October 2017.
|TOP LNG CARRIER LIFECYCLE REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE YARDS, 2015-2017
|Nakilat-Keppel Offshore & Marine (N-Kom)
|Malaysia Marine & Heavy Engineering
|MES-KHI Yura Dockyard
|San Giorgio del Porto (SGdP)
|Source: LNG World Shipping/shipyards, September 2017
|*year to September