Oct. 22 (UPI) -- The rise of major emerging liquified natural gas, or LNG, buyers led by China has created the need for infrastructure investment and new shipping capacity to avoid price volatility, a report by the International Energy Agency said Monday.
"The risk of a lack of timely investment in the LNG carrier fleet could pose a threat to market development and security of supply, which could materialize even earlier than the risk of insufficient liquefaction capacity," the IEA said Monday.
The Paris-based organization said that "uncertainties remain for the future evolution of gas markets", which is being reshaped by rising production and exports from the U.S., as well as increasing demand from China.
The new emerging buyers have a priority for "short-term supply, usually for prompt execution" which requires market flexibility to serve those needs.
The IEA mentioned "China's supply shortfall over the last winter," as well as European fuel needs, in response to a string of cold weather events and unplanned gas supply outages.
"These uncertainties could have an impact on price volatility and hurt consumers -- especially the most price-sensitive emerging buyers -- and cause additional security concerns," the report said.
The U.S. exports of LNG through the first half of 2018 rose 58 percent compared with the same period in 2017, averaging 2.72 billion cubic feet per day, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Based on EIA data through April 2018, China's imports of U.S. LNG have averaged 0.4 billion cubic feet per day, behind only South Korea and Mexico.
Separately, the LNG carrier fleet is expanding fast, according to a report.
As of late April, 22 LNG vessels were delivered since the start of 2018 with an expected 43 other vessels to be delivered during the rest of the year. This would take total capacity to "by far the largest yearly number ever," according to a report from LNG World News.
LNG is natural gas, or methane, mixed with some ethane that is processed in a cryogenic facility to reduce volume 600 times to make it easier for shipping. Once delivered, the LNG must once again be re-converted to natural gas so that it can be used to produce electricity or for other uses.