HOW WILL THIS IMPACT ALASKA’S LNG MARKET?
As Alaska ponders the quickly changing global market for liquified natural gas (LNG), Asia has always been the obvious customer.
Alaska has a geographic advantage with its direct shipping routes to Japan and its steady, uninterrupted supply to that island nation for decades. The relationship with Japan remains strong, and Japan’s energy requirements are steady.
But nearby China is the big prize, and that prize is being claimed early by Cheniere Energy. Last week, a ship loaded with LNG exited the newly expanded Panama Canal and headed for China.
Shell’s Maran Gas Apollonia loaded up at the Sabine Pass LNG plant on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana early last week and by Friday had transited Panama. Shell does not publicize where its ships are bound. The industry, however, has determined the destination is China and according to real-time maritime tracking software, that’s in the neighborhood.
The expanded Panama Canal reduces transit time from the Gulf Coast from 16,000 miles to 9,000 miles. For comparison, Nikiski, Alaska to Japan is about 3,000 miles.