The Panama Canal marked another milestone on 25 July 2016 with the transit of the first-ever liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier through its expanded locks.
Shell-chartered Maran Gas Apollonia, measuring 289m by 45m, arrived from the Sabine Pass LNG Terminal on the U.S. Gulf Coast, signaling the arrival of the highly-anticipated segment to the waterway.
“The transit of the first LNG vessel through the new Panama Canal locks is a milestone in the waterway’s history,” said Panama Canal Administrator and CEO Jorge L. Quijano. “LNG trade will greatly benefit from the Expansion, and we look forward to welcoming even more LNG vessels through our great waterway. This transit marks the beginning of a new era that will result in cleaner and lower cost energy for the world.”
The Expanded Canal can accommodate 90 per cent of the world’s LNG tankers, which will have a major impact on global LNG flows and offer numerous benefits to shippers.
For example, with the United States poised to become one of the world’s top LNG exporters in the next five years, the Canal will allow vessels departing the US East and Gulf Coast for Asia to enjoy significant reductions in voyage times (up to 22.8 days roundtrip), making U.S. gas deliveries to major Asian importers very competitive. Vessels departing the US Gulf Coast for the West Coast of South America will similarly experience generous time savings.
In addition, LNG ships from the production plants in Trinidad and Tobago could head to Chile where LNG is regasified and distributed for energy-producing purposes. For this route, the Expanded Canal provides savings of 6.3 days in transit time compared to the Magellan Strait.