Suez, Panama Canals to See Greater LNG Traffic as Western Economies Improve

On February 17, representatives from both the Suez and Panama canals have agreed to speak at a Houston conference hosted by Zeus Development Corp to discuss plans for expansions, tolls, and capabilities to assist world liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade. LNG trade is expanding and carrier traffic through the canals is expected to increase as Western economies improve and the Panama Canal expands.

“In 2009, 10 percent of world LNG trade transited the canals, almost all of it through the Suez,” Bob Nimocks, president of Zeus Development Corp, said. “By 2020, we anticipate the percentage to double as the Pacific becomes more self sufficient, pushing Middle East cargos westward and the PCA expands.”

Silvia Marucci, leader – liquid bulk segment, Panama Canal Authority (PCA), has agreed to discuss the authorities expansion plans and the implications for bulk liquid fleets. Eng. Ahmed M. El-Manakhly, director of planning and research, Suez Canal Authority, is slated to discuss Suez Canal experiences and perspectives on LNG.

Prices for LNG in Western markets have been rising. Recent U.K. National Balancing Point prices on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) have exceeded $9.50/MMBtu, up three dollars since September. Even the U.S. Henry Hub in South Louisiana has witnessed rises to above $4.50/MMBtu.

These price increases are sharper than ones being experienced in Asia, thus some Middle Eastern cargos will move westward. Added to this, the Panama Canal is expected to complete an expansion in 2014 that will allow ships up to 170,000 liquid cubic meters to pass, which is enough to accommodate 90 percent of the world fleet. With new export and import terminals in the Americas, the canal is likely to play an essential role in Pan American trade.

Other speakers in the Feb. 17 program include Keith Bainbridge, partner, RS Platou, a major marine brokerage, and Captain Ralph Pundt, founder of the International Maritime Security Network, who will discuss security issues for carriers in and around the canals.


Source: Zeus Library, January 6, 2011;