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Exceeding Expectations at the 27th World Gas Conference: A Note From the Deputy Administrator of the Panama Canal

Wednesday, 04 July 2018 | 16:00

During June’s World Gas Conference (WGC 2018), an esteemed event that brings together the world’s leading policymakers and biggest names in natural gas, I joined the Panama Canal’s Executive Manager of the Economic Analysis & Market Research Division Silvia de Marucci to discuss the Panama Canal’s commitment to accommodating growth in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry.

I arrived at WGC 2018, hosted in Washington, D.C. – and hosted in by the United States for the first time in 30 years – at an opportune moment for the Canal: directly after we marked the two year anniversary of the Expanded Canal, which allowed the LNG trade to transit the waterway for the first time. Continued initiatives to optimize our operations permit more LNG cargo to travel through our waterways each year, surpassing all prior expectations. Given our successful history and an already promising FY 2018 in this segment, the timing of WGC 2018 could not have been better. Surrounded by top energy journalists and global thought leaders, I spoke at a press briefing about how the Canal has become a leading LNG maritime transport authority that’s taking proactive measures to accommodate future growth.

Announced at WGC, the Canal is lifting self-imposed restrictions on daylight hours and encounters for LNG vessels – now permitting LNG vessels to transit the Canal locks at night and to be in the Gatun Lake at the same time from opposing directions. Lifting these restrictions, which will be effective October 1, 2018, will allow the LNG industry greater flexibility in transiting the waterway, and offer more opportunity for a second reservation slot for LNG vessels.

This added flexibility will supplement existing efforts to accommodate vessels without reservations, which currently pass through the waterway with minimal wait. Of the 372 total LNG transits the Panama Canal has welcomed, 35 arrived without a reservation and 30 of those transited the Canal in the same day. This efficient service is thanks in large part to close coordination with our customers and continued efforts to optimize our operations.

This announcement cements the Panama Canal as a fast lane for gas trade, and fewer restrictions mean fewer stop lights. Cargo leaving the United States can make it to Asian and South American markets two weeks earlier if they take the Canal over other maritime routes. Currently, many trade ships opt for the shorter trip – in FY 2017, 46 percent of all U.S. LNG exports passed through the Canal. That traffic is expected to pick up by as much as 50 perfect this year, and it’s up to the Canal to make sure these ships stay on schedule.

The 27th WGC envisioned a sustainable, economical future for natural gas. Over 600 speakers addressed all angles of leading issues affecting the sector, including distribution and storage, strategy, environmental sustainability and the expansion of LNG trade. I’m proud to have shared the stage with such accomplished speakers to show how the Canal directly tackles these industry challenges and further realizes its unique position as both the Americas’ logistic hub and a global leader in maritime trade.
Source: Panama Canal Authority

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