Shipping congestion that has slowed passage through the Panama Canal since last year amid strong demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) and other goods between Asia and the United States has finally eased, after wait times peaked at 16 days for vessels with unreserved slots. 

The historic cold that left Asian inventories depleted last winter and drove demand late in 2020 prompted buyers to more aggressively secure cargoes this year. Asian prices have hit records this year, attracting U.S. LNG cargoes and creating fierce competition with Europe for supplies.

“The arbitrage was open to Asia almost all of 2021, contributing to Panama Canal congestion,” said Poten & Partners’ Jason Feer, global head of business intelligence at the shipbroker.

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