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Panama Canal Expansion to Grow LNG Trade

The U.S. is in a relatively strong position to take advantage of Asian demand for natural gas. There are now a total of three proposed export terminals for liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the U.S. that have achieved all the necessary permits.

With full federal approval, political risk for LNG exports can be laid to rest. Now, the bigger challenge for LNG exporters is finding and securing a captive market for their product. In this regard, there is a lot to be excited about as well.

But investing in U.S. LNG exporters is not without risks. For one, a rapid rise in demand for LNG in Asia is suddenly looking a bit less of a sure thing. That is largely due to China’s flagging growth rate.

More importantly, American producers will face stiff competition from their Australian counterparts. A massive volume of liquefaction capacity is set to come online over the next several years. Australia is bringing online 62 million tonnes per year (mtpa) of LNG export capacity by 2018, which is a staggering figure considering the country only has 22.2 mtpa today. And they are much closer to the markets of China, Japan, and South Korea.

That proximity lowers shipping costs, which may seem nominal considering the cost of production, liquefaction and regasification. But lower shipping costs could be just enough to make the difference in winning long-term contracts. Australia, therefore, is sitting in the best possible spot to serve the hungry consumers in East Asia.…

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