The latest data shows that in January, the proportion of LNG exports taking the longer route around the Cape of Good Hope has remained high due not only to shipping attacks in the Red Sea but also drought-related restrictions at the Panama Canal.
Out of total US exports of 4.55 million mt, around 280,000 mt went through the Panama Canal, while 530,000 mt took the Cape route. None went via the Suez Canal, which normally serves as the main alternative route to Asia when the Panama Canal is otherwise unfavorable.
The longer voyages could tighten vessel availability in the coming weeks, but for now, freight rates have been cushioned due to current prices disincentivizing arbitrage and ample vessel supply, with rates to Japan/Korea at their lowest levels since June.
Source: Gelber & Associates