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Double-Wide: Who's Set to Benefit From the Expanded Panama Canal?

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The historic renovation could be a boon for US ports, but right now the US is falling behind other global players.

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Last week, a bipartisan group of 44 House representatives pushed for the approval of these permits to be expedited. NBC News reports:


"This surplus of natural gas has produced very low prices for producers and an absence of market opportunities for natural gas, leading to many wells just being shut in," said Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, and Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., in a letter joined by 42 other House members. They said the Energy Department's approval process for more LNG exports "does not seem to have a set timeline for decisions or a sense of urgency."

Among the reasons they cited for federal regulators to allow more liquid natural gas terminals to be built: job creation and the fact that exporting LNG would reduce the US trade deficit as consumers abroad paid for US-produced energy.

With a majority of shale deposits located in the Eastern half of the United States, America's exported liquid natural gas could potentially compete with Qatar's, Yemen's, Indonesia's, and Australia's in supplying customers in South Korea and Japan. The expanded Panama Canal route opens up this access to these countries for American companies.

Lax covers the potential advantages of this situation.

"The US is certainly going to have to find a home for all this natural gas we sit on top of, and certainly the Japanese, particularly after the tsunami, earthquake and nuclear meltdown, are looking to switch over to non-nuclear resources -- and LNG is the cleanest and cheapest viable alternative out there."

And while the US is once again encumbered by regulatory holdups, Japan, as well as Chile and Argentina, have shown increasing interest in Trinidad and Tobago's natural gas resources.

Chile recently completed its Quintero liquid natural gas terminal, which began receiving shipments from Trinidad and Tobago last week. Argentina's Escobar terminal has been receiving shipments from Trinidad and Tobago's Fort Point LNG Terminal since earlier this year. These shipments, which reach South America's west coast via Cape Horn's extremely treacherous waters, will likely benefit from a shorter, safer route about to open via the Canal.

Atlantic LNG is the state-owned natural gas mining company in Trinidad and Tobago, with stake holders including subsidiaries of BP (BP), BG Group plc (BG.L), Repsol S.A. (REP.MC), and GDF Suez S.A. (GSZ). It has been manufacturing liquid natural gas since 1996 and is one of the world's largest producers. It is the single largest supplier of LNG to the United States, according the US Department of State -- although those exports understandably dropped as reserves are being developed within the US.

No positions in stocks mentioned.
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