The Panama Canal set a new monthly record for transits and tonnage of LNG vessels in January, as US shipments to Asia increased.
In January, a total of 58 LNG vessels transited through the Neopanamax Locks, totaling 6.74 million Panama Canal tons, the Panama Canal Authority said in a statement.
The canal set the previous record monthly record of 54 LNG transits in January 2020.
“These achievements reaffirm the Canal’s ability to adapt and guarantee our competitiveness and reliability to capture the opportunities presented by market changes, including the liquefied natural gas segment,” Panama Canal Administrator, Ricaurte Vasquez Morales, said.
The Panama Canal says it recently adjusted its operations to provide more flexibility to the LNG market.
In January, the canal modified a reservation booking system to allow any slot that becomes available for Neopanamax vessels within 96 hours prior to transit to be offered through an auction process.
Since the modifications, the Canal has conducted 25 auctions, of which nine have been awarded to LNG vessels.
Moreover, the Canal said it was able to transit three northbound LNG vessels in one day, on January 25, and transit four LNG ships, two northbound and two southbound, in one day on January 31.
The increase of LNG transits through the Panama Canal is a result of record winter temperatures in Asia, which have caused LNG prices to surge to unprecedented levels, it said.