Growing US production of natural gas is impacting Latin America and giving added impetus to the expanded Panama canal with the regular transit of giant LNG vessels.
BY ALEX WOOD, LISA VISCIDI, AND JASON FARGO
The global natural gas market is changing dramatically as a result of surging US shale production. Due to its geographical proximity and growing gas demand, Latin America and the Caribbean has emerged as a top market for US liquefied natural gas (LNG), according to a report from the Energy, Climate Change & Extractive Industries Program.
The next few years will see a major shift in the hemispheric natural gas trade, as increased US LNG exports increasingly displace volumes from other exporters, argue the authors.
US LNG exports to Latin America and the Caribbean spiked to over 200 million cubic feet last year since the first cargoes went out in 2016.
Trade in the Americas is important to US exporters facing a global LNG supply glut as well as importers in the region that are looking to diversify fuel sources. Commercial developments, such as more flexible contract terms, and emerging technologies like small-scale and floating LNG, are making regional gas trade more liquid and allowing new markets to open up. Policy developments will also impact LNG trade in the Americas, from proposals in the US to facilitate small-scale LNG exports to new restrictions on large hydroelectric dams in Brazil.
The largest markets for LNG imports in the region have been Mexico and Brazil. But, other markets, such as the Caribbean and Central America, have significant potential for growth.
* The report is authored by Alex Wood, Policy Analyst at the US Department of Energy, Lisa Viscidi, Energy, Climate Change and Extractive Industries Program Director at the Inter-American Dialogue, and Jason Fargo, Latin America Team Leader at Energy Intelligence Group.
YES! It is cheap for now! There have been a rash of home explosions in Texas suburbs and other locations in the USA due to LNG!! Also these big over size ships are giant thermos bottle with enough explosive power to eviscerate the Panama canal, Colon, or Panama City under terrorist or some delude mental or political situation. LNG infrastructure is not cheap to build or maintain. Especially in third world countries and rural areas were compliance and maintenance is not enforced. Solar and wind can be and are becoming much cheaper to build and maintain, with an added benefit of more jobs than the LNG industry could ever produce in these countries that are overtly tied to this obsolescent fossil fuel! In the short term a great deal! In the long term a deal with the devil!
Why not use it while it is plentiful and cheap? Factoring in battery replacement and ongoing maintenance by by ever aging consumers, LNG is a very attractive alternative to solar and wind power.
We are currently being offered grid electricity for the first time, at our finca. Using the money it would take to get connected and the cost of a couple year's service, will provide us with a fully comprehensive solar system. This system is not affected by drivers crashing into poles, floods, or downed trees. It can be maintained at a level of power that keeps batteries recharged and the internet engaged. Considering the competitive cost and efficiency of alternative energies, and the condition of it's electric grid, Panama would be so much wiser to skip the step of increasing dependence on lng, and go straight for small, independent sources of power.