The maximum allowable beam for vessels transiting the Neopanamax locks was increased last year.
The Panama Canal on Sunday welcomed Qatargas’ Al Safliya, the first Q-Flex and the largest liquefied natural gas tanker to transit the waterway.
The tanker, which measures 315 meters in length and 50 meters in beam, transited northbound from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean.
Q-Flex LNG tankers can pass through the Panama Canal following an increase in the maximum allowable beam for vessels transiting the Neopanamax locks. Implemented in June 2018, the maximum beam allowed is 51.25 meters, up from 49 meters.
In combination with Al Safliya’s Q-Flex class design, which allows for the 40% reduction of emissions in comparison to other gas carriers, the Panama Canal and Qatargas saved nearly 10,000 tons of CO2 emissions compared to alternative routes, directly reducing of global emissions, according to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP).
This latest milestone comes less than a month after the Expanded Canal celebrated its 6,000th Neopanamax vessel to transit, the Energy Liberty LNG tanker on April 23.
The ACP said it is expecting to see further growth in its LNG transits following the beam increase. In 2018, the canal saw 340 LNG transits, up from 181 in 2017. So far in 2019, the canal has seen more than 100 LNG transits.