The Panama Canal Authority says it expects liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier transits through the waterway to almost double by 2020 driven by US exports of natural gas.
Panama Canal Administrator, Jorge L. Quijano, said: “For the first time in canal history, we are handling LNG vessels that were unable to fit our Panamax-size locks. The shale revolution in the United States not only has produced a quantum leap in terms of technology and volumes, but has also become a catalyst for the development and rapid evolution of a growing spot market, swaps and short-term contracts that were unthinkable a few years ago.”
Following the inauguration of the expanded locks last year, the canal welcomed its first-ever LNG carrier, the Shell-chartered Maran Gas Apollonia, in July 2016.
The expanded canal can accommodate 90 percent of the world’s LNG carriers, allowing ships departing the U.S. East and Gulf Coast for Asia to cut voyage times to 22.8 days roundtrip.
“During the past nine months of operation of our expanded canal we have seen LNG flows that we never expected a few years back. For example, LNG from Algeria and from Equatorial Guinea going to Mexico’s Pacific coast using the Panama Canal,” Quijano added.