(Bloomberg) -- Hefty April premiums for natural gas in Europe prompted LNG tanker British Listener to make an abrupt U-turn in the Pacific Ocean after spending two weeks at sea on a path to Asia. 

The BP-chartered ship left Freeport LNG in Texas on March 21, crossed the Panama Canal and was southwest of Mexico when it changed course on April 1, ship tracking data compiled by Bloomberg shows. Since then, the tanker went back across the Panama Canal and is now headed to Gibraltar, data from Marine Traffic shows. 

Such tanker diversions are not common and require paying $1 million in tolls to travel twice through the Panama Canal. But a similar turnaround happened earlier this winter when European natural gas prices began to command a large premium over more traditional markets in Asia. As war continues in Ukraine and concerns linger about Russian supplies, those economics have roughly two-thirds of all U.S. LNG cargoes heading to Europe.

“This is in line with our forecast for record high European LNG imports this year, and backed by the prompt-month TTF price trading at $3.50/mmbtu above JKM thus far in April,” said Peter Rosenthal, head of power and North American gas at Energy Aspects.

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