LNG is an area in which we can expect the new bigger Panama Canal to make a great difference in trade patterns. The major source of US export LNG will be in the deep south, the US Gulf Coast. There are also major LNG processing and storage facilities in the Caribbean island nations. Transit times to Asia and to South America will be substantially improved, making US LNG exports competitive from a transportation standpoint. And it appears the canal is accomplishing that.
So why hasn’t the flow of tankers happened yet? The Canal management expects it to happen soon. But wait a minute! Just as for container ships, it appears that the Gulf Coast tanker ports cannot handle the larger vessels. They need operational and infrastructure improvements to support the larger ships’ needs for berthing, loading, and unloading.
Isn’t it ironic? All the angst over dredging East Coast ports for container ships and rigging terminals to unload big ships fast, and no one thought of the same issues for tankers? Is no one in shipping thinking about supply chains?
Here’s the nice story by Deepa Vijiyasingam of Platts.