Reshaping Panama Canal Trade Means Boom in Gas to Asia

Article excerpt

Six years after the Panama Canal began a $5.25-billion expansion to capture shipments of Asian- made goods to the US East Coast, the flow of liquefied natural gas in the opposite direction promises to be a better bet.

Shipments of the fuel, along with rising commodity and energy cargoes between the US, Latin America and Asia, are likely to provide the largest sources of demand growth when the project is complete in June 2015, Administrator Jorge Luis Quijano said in an interview. Shipping containerized goods, which generate most business for the 50-mile link, has yet to return to the same level as 2007, two years before the global economy had its worst recession since World War II.

The shift shows how rising US shale-gas output is reshaping global energy markets. The Panama Canal enlargement is central to the change because the route cuts voyages by more than 7,500 nautical miles (8,500 miles) to Asia, where fuel demand is growing fastest. The waterway, handling 5 percent of world trade and shipping 333 million metric tons in the year to Sept. 30, is used by as many as 14,000 ships a year, connecting 160 countries and 1,700 ports, according to its website. …