First LNG Vessel Passes Through Expanded Panama Canal

According to the Panama Canal Authority, the expanded canal can accommodate 90 percent of the world's LNG tankers.

A liquefied natural gas (LNG) ship passed through the expanded Panama Canal's locks on July 25, the first LNG ship to make the trip. Shell-chartered Maran Gas Apollonia, 289 meters long and 45 meters wide, had traveled to the canal from the Sabine Pass LNG Terminal on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

"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 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."

According to the Panama Canal Authority, the expanded canal can accommodate 90 percent of the world's LNG tankers. And with the United States poised to become one of the world's top LNG exporters within the next five years, the canal will allow vessels departing the U.S. East and Gulf coasts for Asia and ships heading from the U.S. Gulf Coast to the west coast of South America to make shorter trips.

The authority has a new tolls structure in place that offer cost savings to LNG vessels conducting round-trip voyages. "The new tolls reduce ballast fees for LNG customers who use the same vessel for a roundtrip voyage as opposed to using an alternate route, so long as the transit in ballast is made within 60 days after the laden transit was completed," according to the authority.

"The Panama Canal makes history today with the opening of its gates to new opportunities for world energy with the transit of the first LNG vessel," said José Ramón Arango, senior specialist for the Liquid Bulk Segment at the authority. "Our reliable connection is an important enabler in the development of new LNG trade by reducing the distances that link world LNG markets and providing access to clean energy resources."

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