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Costs of LNG supply

Costs of LNG supply

The business model for LNG terminals in ports hinges on four factors:

  • regional maritime demand for LNG (available liner shipping)
  • availability and type of neighbouring terminals
  • demand by non-maritime stakeholders (road/inland navigation/industry/power generation)

The last of these criteria has a major influence on the viability of any large import terminal that combines the supply of LNG to ships with import activities. The larger the terminal, the lower the distribution costs.


The study by the Danish Maritime Authority illustrates three different typical LNG terminal cases.


Three different typical LNG bunker terminal cases
LNG port caselargemediumsmall
Throughput/year204,000 m3343,000 m352,000 m3
Tank sizeno separate tank20,000 m32*700 m3
Tank turnover/yearn/a2040
Installationsone bunkering berth, one jettyone bunkering berth, one jettyone bunkering berth
one small-scale bunkering verssel (4,000 m3)two small-scale bunkering vessel (3-4,000 m3)one tank truck, 50 m3
two tank trucks, 50 m3one tank truck, 50 m3 
one truck filling stationone truck filling stationone truck filling station
Costs of LNG distribution at 10 years payback€118/tonne (US$2.2/mmBTU)€137/tonne (US¤2.6/mmBTU)€194/tonne (US$3.7/mmBTU)


The costs of developing wharves and infrastructure are not reflected in the calculations, because these were regarded as cost-neutral versus HFO solutions.

Another study by Total estimates the distribution costs for a large to medium-sized terminal at between $3 and $4.50/mmBTU, calculating with a payback time of five to six years.

Taking into account the projected LNG demand of 3 million to 8 million tonnes, a significant number of terminals will be needed in ECA ports. For example, the projected Gothenburg terminal is a medium-sized terminal, while in the ports of Rotterdam and Zeebrugge, LNG will be available from large regasification terminals.


Uncertainty for terminal developers and bunker ship operators

Terminal developers and operators of bunkering ships may need to take into account that utilisation of a terminal or bunker ship is generally low in the first years, requiring relatively high capacity utilisation in later years. Since ship-to-ship bunkering is broadly being seen as the most important type of bunkering, the availability of bunker ships is of key importance for LNG demand growth.


Currently, no bunkering ships are available. The first vessels are expected in 2015.

Further reading

LNG business models for ports

The business model for LNG terminals depends on a range of factors, including regional maritime demand for LNG, availability and type of neighbouring terminals, demand from trucks and inland barges, and land-based demand for industrial use and power generation.