The Panama Canal marked another milestone with the transit of the first-ever liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier, the Shell-chartered Maran Gas Apollonia, through its expanded locks.
Measuring 289 meters in length and 45 meters in beam, the LNG carrier arrived from the Sabine Pass LNG Terminal on the U.S. Gulf Coast on Monday, 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,” Panama Canal Administrator and CEO Jorge L. Quijano said, adding that “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 percent of the world’s LNG tankers, which will have a major impact on global LNG flows and offer numerous benefits to shippers.
The canal will allow vessels departing the U.S. East and Gulf Coast for Asia to cut voyage times to 22.8 days roundtrip. Vessels departing the U.S. Gulf Coast for the West Coast of South America will also experience 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.
Since its June 26 inauguration, the Expanded Panama Canal has, in addition to this LNG transit, welcomed 53 vessels, including 22 liquefied petroleum (LPG) vessels, 28 containerships and two vehicle carriers.