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Japan-Operated LNG/LPG Vessels' Panama Canal Passages Grow Significantly
= JSA report: LPG vessel passages increase 43% to 97 vessels =
It was revealed that the number of Japanese shipping firm-operated LNG and LPG vessels passing through the Panama Canal has increased significantly. The Japanese Shipowners' Association (JSA) released a survey of vessel operations by JSA member companies (including their charter of foreign vessels). The Panama Canal finished expansion construction to add new locks in June 2016, which allowed LNG vessels and VLGCs (Very Large Gas Carriers) that could not go through the canal to use it. As the main route between Asia and the US where shale gas development is growing, opportunities to use the canal have been increasing rapidly.

The survey of the Panama Canal, conducted for the period of one year from April 2017 to March 2018, says JSA member firms' 101 LNG/LPG vessels have passed through the canal during the period, 31 vessels (44.3%) more than the same period last year.

Especially, the number of LPG vessels has increased remarkably — it reached 97 vessels, up by 29 vessels (42.6%) year on year. In the US, projects to increase LPG production are advancing faster than LNG projects. The number of VLGCs using the new locks was 77 vessels in the period, accounting for about 80%, 9 vessels more than the same period last year.

The number of LNG vessels also doubled to 4 vessels. Although the number is still low compared to that of LPG vessels, long-term LNG shipping from the Cove Point terminal to Japan, the first LNG shipping between mainland the US and Japan, was started from April 2018 under an SPA deal. Tokyo Gas and Kansai Electric Power purchase the LNG.

In addition, the Freeport project and Cameron project, from which Japan's JERA, Tohoku Electric Power, Toho Gas etc. plan to purchase LNG, will be launched in 2019. The number of LNG vessels using the canal therefore is expected to further increase.

On the other hand, the number of LNG vessels passing through the Suez Canal during January-December 2017 stayed at 29 vessels, 33 vessels (53.2%) less than last year, says the survey — decline in opportunities of arbitrage transactions due to narrow price gas between Asia and Europe is likely to be the background factor of it.

Incidentally, the total numbers of JSA member-operated vessels using both canals, including car carriers, bulk vessel, container carriers and so on, are 1,267 vessels (Panama), up by 163 vessels (14.8%) and 1,110 vessels (Suez), up by 44 vessels (4.1%) year on year.
last modified : Fri 05 Oct, 2018 [10:25]
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