Sveinung Støhle, the company's deputy chief executive officer, said, "Suez will need to take a lot more vessels" because the drought-stricken Panama Canal has sailing restrictions.
He noted that the Suez Canal, which serves as an alternative route for ships traversing between the US and Asia, has historically managed congestion issues "very well over the years," making it "less of an issue, but obviously, it's something you need to be aware of."
The bottleneck at the Panama Canal has only allowed companies with pre-booked slots to sail the canal, Støhle said. He said only four or five LNG vessels are sailing the canal each month, down from about 30 before restrictions were put in place earlier this year.
"If you can't go via the Panama Canal, you must add one more ship for the same volume," he said. "Where do you get the ships from? That's is going to be a challenge."
Panama Canal is one of the world's most important trade routes. In the second half of this year, we have detailed in-depth about a parking lot of commercial vessels building on either side of the canal amid worsening drought conditions across Central America. This has reduced the number of ships sailing through the waterway, as the bottleneck has forced one of the world's largest operators of chemical tankers to reroute its fleet.
Bloomberg reports that London-based Stolt-Nielsen has begun to charge customers for longer routes, avoiding the massive bottleneck at the Panama Canal.