Recently loaded liquefied natural gas shipments from the U.S. bound for Asia are changing course for longer voyages lasting more than a month while avoiding the Red Sea, according to ship tracking data on Bloomberg.
The detours highlight a change in the global trade flows after Houthi attacks on the crucial waterway forced hundreds of ships to take safer but longer routes, delaying shipments. LNG is key for Northeast Asia’s biggest buyers, particularly in the winter demand season. The United States is the main fuel transporter.
The Vivit Americas LNG vessel, which loaded at the Cove Point plant in Maryland on December 16, initially set course for the Suez Canal before diverting three days later to travel around Africa. The ship now indicates her arrival in Japan on January 25, more than a month since loading.
Another tanker, Prism Courage, also avoids the Suez Canal on its way to South Korea. The shipment was taken out of the Freeport LNG plant in Texas on December 16 and will arrive in the Asian country on January 26. The data intelligence company Kpler also pointed out the deviations.
LNG vessels began avoiding the Red Sea this week, including ballast ships heading to pick up their next cargoes. The shortest routes from the United States to Asia are through the Panama Canal, where ships now face delays amid drought-induced congestion, or across the Mediterranean and Suez. Qatari LNG shipments have so far continued to sail through Suez to Europe, ship tracking data shows.