The number of liquefied natural gas (LNG ) carriers transiting the expanded Panama Canal is reportedly expected to rise 50 percent by September.
The expanded canal received 60 LNG tankers in the last quarter of 2017 and soon expects to handle one LNG vessel per day, Reuters reported on Wednesday citing Jorge Quijano, head of the Panama Canal Authority as saying.
As previously reported by LNG World New, LNG transits through the expanded canal have been steadily rising since July 2016 reaching record highs last year, driven by US exports of shale gas.
The expanded canal is able to accommodate about 90 percent of the world’s current LNG tankers. Only the Q-Flex and Q-Max tankers used for exports from Qatar are not able to use the canal.
The number of transits by LNG tankers spiked to 163 in fiscal year 2017 as compared to 17 in the year before.
Most carriers are loaded in the United States, specifically at Cheniere’s Sabine Pass plant in Louisiana, for delivery to the Pacific coast of Mexico or South America.
There are four 0.6-Bcfd liquefaction trains operating at Sabine Pass, currently the only such facility to ship US shale gas overseas, and a fifth is under construction and expected to enter service in mid-2019. Cheniere also plans to start its Corpus Christi plant next year.
U.S. export capacity jumped to 18 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) last year from less than 2 Mtpa in 2015.
Panama is also trying to be more flexible for LNG transit bookings so exporters can choose to pass through the canal even if that was not originally planned, Quijano told Reuters.
LNG World News Staff