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Panama Canal to See 550 U.S. LNG Tankers a Year After Expansion

  • Travel time to Japan drops to 20 days from as much as 34
  • U.S. shipped first cargo of gas from shale fields in February

Natural gas exports from the U.S. Gulf Coast will reach buyers in Asia and South America faster and at lower costs thanks to an expanded Panama Canal that could see 550 tankers a year by 2021.

As of Sunday, the canal linking the Pacific and Atlantic oceans was open to the size of vessel typically used to carry liquefied natural gas after a $5.3 billion expansion. The shortcut will shrink travel times for ships carrying gas from U.S. shale fields and encourage utilities and traders who have reserved liquefaction capacity to actually use those plants.