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Wood Mackenzie on the congestion at the Suez Canal

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LNG Industry,

Principal Analyst Lucas Schmitt from Wood Mackenzie has commented on the congestion at the Suez Canal and the impact on LNG:

“At least 15 ships initially due to transit the Canal on the same day were forced to wait at anchorages. More have arrived since, creating a build-up of vessels close to the Northern and Southern entrances and within the Canal itself.

“The impact of this disruption on the LNG market will be limited if the disruption is solved within a day or two. Only a handful of LNG cargoes were in the close vicinity of the Suez Canal when the incident started. At this stage, we don’t expect major bottlenecks, unless the situation drags on.

“The Suez Canal is a key channel for LNG ships – with around 8% of global LNG trade going through. So far in March 2021 a handful of cargoes have been transiting each day in both directions (until the disruption).

“The impact could be greater if the disruption lasts longer, as the recent delays at the Panama Canal illustrated. However, the timing of this incident means it will have less impact on prices than that of the Panama since we’re entering the shoulder season for the LNG market.

“Charter rates are currently low – around US$30 000/d – but could tighten up (reflecting the additional tonne-mile needed to bypass the canal) if the disruption lasts. Shipping optimisation might be complicated, particularly for ships already within the Mediterranean and Red Sea. Further delays would impact both loading and discharge schedules and disrupt some flows, mostly to the European market."

According to Wood Mackenzie’s VesselTracker – as of 24 March, one LNG vessel is ‘trapped’ within the canal. The Golar Tundra loaded at Egypt’s Idku on 21 March and was transiting to Asia. At the Southern entrance, the Rasheeda is awaiting to transit with a shipment from Qatar.

As of 5.50 pm, CET, there are three LNG tankers (two full, one empty) waiting or approaching the south side of the Canal, two full tankers waiting at the north entrance, and the full Golar Tundra is stuck in the middle. Meanwhile, at least one US export, the Pan Americas, has potentially been rerouted in the North Atlantic towards the Cape of Good Hope, away from its previous heading towards the Mediterranean/Suez.

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