A ship carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States became the first LNG carrier to pass through the enlarged Panama Canal on Monday.
Maran Gas Apollonia transiting the expanded Panama Canal’s Cocoli Locks
Source: Canal De Panama
In a surprise, a ship carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States became the first LNG carrier to pass through the enlarged Panama Canal on Monday.
It was expected a ship carrying LNG from Trinidad and Tobago would be the first through the canal.
The Shell-chartered Maran Gas Apollonia – measuring 289 meters in length and 45 meters in beam – arrived Monday from the Sabine Pass LNG Terminal on the U.S. Gulf Coast, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) said.
“The transit of the first LNG vessel through the new Panama Canal locks is a milestone in the waterway’s history,” ACP CEO and Administrator Jorge L. Quijano said. “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 ACP, which noted how the expanded canal can accommodate 90 percent of the world’s LNG tankers, predicted the expansion would have a major impact on global LNG flows and offer a variety of benefits to shippers.
While Japan, South Korea, China and Taiwan collectively account for two-thirds of global LNG imports, the U.S. is poised to become one of the world’s top LNG exporters in the next five years. The canal will allow vessels departing the U.S. East and Gulf Coast for Asia to enjoy significant reductions in voyage times (up to 22.8 days roundtrip) when making U.S. gas deliveries to Asia.
For example, the voyage to Japan will take 20 days, compared to 34 days for voyages around the southern tip of Africa, or 31 days if transiting through the Suez Canal. To Chile regasification terminals, transit times will be cut from 20 days to eight or nine days.
Vessels departing Trinidad and Tobago to the West Coast of South America will also save time.
ACP has instituted a new toll structure to offer cost savings to LNG vessels conducting roundtrip 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.
In addition to Monday’s LNG transit, the expanded Panama Canal has welcomed 53 vessels since its June 26 inauguration, including 22 liquefied petroleum (LPG) vessels, 28 containerships and two vehicle carriers. In addition, the number of reservations the Canal has received thus far from various types of Neopanamax vessels totals over 229 reservations.