More U.S. LNG cargoes are taking longer and costlier routes to reach consumers in Asia as a drought impacting levels at the Panama Canal has increased wait times to transit the waterway.

“The Panama Canal remains a primary route for U.S. LNG to access Asian markets, though an increased volume of trade is utilizing other routes, especially from the Cheniere-operated terminals,” said Kpler analyst Adam Bennett. 

Cheniere Energy Inc. is the leading U.S. LNG exporter. Bennett told NGI that there’s been a “pronounced drop” in the usage of the canal among vessels leaving the company’s Sabine Pass and Corpus Christi terminals. Cheniere’s management has said it is shunning the waterway for now because it’s uneconomical to use it. 

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