Almost twice as many ships were needed to deliver U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) on an equivalent unit basis in the third quarter compared to the global average, the head of shipper GasLog Ltd. said Tuesday.

“U.S. exports are the most shipping intensive as the distance to most major discharge destinations is above the global average,” said GasLog CEO Paul Wogan during a third quarter conference call. During the third quarter, he said about 2.5 ships were needed for every 1 million metric ton (mmt) of exported gas, “nearly twice the global average.”

The recent surge in U.S. exports after a significant reduction in the third quarter “is strongly positive for shipping demand.”

During the third quarter, 111 spot LNG shipping hires were reported globally, with 288 in the first nine months of the year, already an annual record, said Wogan, citing data from Poten & Partners consultancy.

GasLog has taken advantage of the increased liquidity to minimize idle time between voyages, allowing the company to capture 70% of the average spot freight rate in 3Q2020, he said.

Using data from shipbroker Clarksons plc, GasLog said spot rates in the quarter averaged $105,000 for tri-fuel diesel-electric LNG vessels and $78,000/day for steam-powered LNG vessels.

The long-term outlook for the LNG market remains strong, but there is potential for volatility because of the continued impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the forecasted growth in the global LNG fleet and seasonal trading patterns, Wogan said.

According to Poten data, U.S. LNG exports in the third quarter totaled 9.1 mmt, an 18% drop from the year-ago total, because of an estimated 112 cargo cancellations and an unplanned outage at Louisiana’s Cameron LNG after Hurricane Laura.

Third quarter domestic export levels were equivalent to average feed gas volumes of 5.3 Bcf/d. To date in November, feed gas has averaged more than 10 Bcf/d, as higher landed prices in Europe and Asia have increased arbitrage opportunities.

GasLog, headquartered in Piraeus, Greece, is considered one of the world’s largest independent owners of LNG vessels with a fleet of 35. One vessel is chartered to Cheniere Energy Inc., and through 3Q2021, it has another four seven-year charters with Cheniere for newbuild vessels. GasLog operates eight ships in the spot market and also charters 12 vessels to Royal Dutch Shell plc.

The company reported a loss of $354,000 (minus 3 cents/share) in the third quarter, compared with a loss of $13.5 million (minus 20 cents) in the same quarter last year.