The U.S. Trade and Development Agency has awarded a grant to the Panama Canal Authority, or ACP, to support a study on a future terminal for imported liquefied natural gas, a new segment that will be opened up as a result of the ongoing expansion of the interoceanic waterway, the canal's administrator said.
"As we near the completion of the Panama Canal Expansion, we are eager to explore new segments such as LNG, which are now possible given our enhanced capacity to accommodate longer and wider ships," Jorge Quijano said Friday after signing the technical cooperation accord.
A third set of locks that is the centerpiece of a nearly completed $5.25 billion Panama Canal expansion project will enable the waterway to accommodate "post-Panamax" ships - used by the energy, and particularly the LNG, industry - that hold up to 12,000 20-foot-long containers and are three times bigger than what the canal can currently handle.
Under the accord, a USTDA-funded feasibility study will be conducted to help the authority plan LNG infrastructure projects, including a terminal, the ACP said in a statement.
"This grant by the USTDA will build on plans and projects related to LNG that are already ongoing and will present us with the ability to evaluate additional market opportunities and client services for the benefit of the U.S.-Panama energy trade," Quijano added.
The expansion of the Panama Canal, an interoceanic waterway that is one of the supreme engineering feats of modern history, began in 2007 and is slated to be completed by early 2016.
The canal currently handles roughly 6 percent of global trade.