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Freeport LNG Ship Terminal Texas

An LNG carrier docked at Freeport LNG Ship Terminal Texas - Image via LNG Development, L.P.

Will US LNG Exports Reroute To Avoid Both The Panama And Suez Canals?

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December 24, 2023

By Anna Shiryaevskaya (Bloomberg) Liquefied natural gas cargoes recently loaded from the US and bound for Asia are changing course for longer voyages lasting more than a month as they avoid the Red Sea, according to ship-tracking data on Bloomberg.

The diversions highlight a shift in global trade flows after Houthi attacks in the crucial waterway forced hundreds of ships to take safer but longer routes, delaying cargoes. LNG is key for the biggest buyers in northeast Asia, particularly in the winter demand season. The US is the top shipper of the fuel. 

The Vivit Americas LNG vessel, which loaded at the Cove Point plant in Maryland on Dec. 16, initially flagged course to the Suez Canal before diverting three days later to travel around Africa. The ship is now signaling arrival in Japan on Jan. 25, more than a month since loading.

Another tanker, Prism Courage, is also avoiding the Suez Canal on its way to South Korea. The cargo was taken from the Freeport LNG plant in Texas on Dec. 16 and will arrive in the Asian country on Jan. 26. Data intelligence company Kpler also flagged the diversions.

LNG vessels began avoiding the Red Sea this week, including ballast vessels headed to pick up their next cargoes. The shorter routes from the US to Asia are via the Panama Canal, where vessels now face delays amid a drought-induced congestion, or via the Mediterranean and Suez. Qatari LNG shipments have so far continued to sail via Suez to Europe, ship-tracking data show.

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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