The number of LNG (liquefied natural gas) tankers transiting the Panama Canal skyrocketed in the first part of the year, according to new data.
As of March 194 LNG tankers have passed through the Canal, a 77 percent increase from 2018, the Panama Canal Authority reports. That compares to a total of 290 for all of 2018 and 163 for 2017. In 2016, before the Canal expanded, only 17 passed through the canal.
While this may sound like nothing more than interesting shipping data, the growth of LNG is providing a major revenue boost for the Canal, which is a key driver for Panama’s economy. LNG is turning into an important industry for the country, which will help support all types of projects around the country, including the Metro and other infrastructure projects.
The Canal has become a major conduit for LNG shipments from the United States and around the world, which has led to the construction of new facilities and more corporate headquarters in Panama. That translates to more renters and sales in the property market over the long term.
More than 90 percent of the LNG fleet can now use the Canal, which “allows LNG producers in the Atlantic Basin, mainly those on the US Gulf Coast, to send cargoes to Asia, where 70 percent of the global demand is found,” according to S & P Global.
The data also suggest that the expansion of the Canal in 2016 has been a huge success. Since 2016, 6,000 Neopanamax have passed through the Canal, according to the Panama Canal Authority. Of those, 37 percent have carried either liquefied petroleum or LNG.
Last year, the Canal Authority increased the number of guaranteed daily slots for LNG tankers to two and lifted some daylight restrictions for the ships.