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LNG tanker registers 4000th Neopanamax transit through Panama Canal

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LNG Industry,

The Panama Canal has registered the transit of its 4000th Neopanamax vessel through the expanded canal, underscoring the steady growth of the burgeoning LNG segment – which began transiting the waterway for the first time following the inauguration of the expanded canal.

The LNG tanker Maria Energy completed the milestone transit traveling southbound from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean on 29 July.

"The steady increase in Neopanamax transits reflect our customers' confidence in the Expanded Canal, particularly with our fastest-growing segment," said Panama Canal Administrator, Jorge L. Quijano. "This reaffirms the value and impact our route has had across global maritime trade, including the fast-growing LNG segment."

The Maria Energy was followed by another LNG tanker, the Maran Gas Alexandria, which also transited the Neopanamax Locks in the southbound direction on 29 July. Both vessels were loaded in Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass LNG export facility in Louisiana, USA.

The waterway regularly transits two LNG vessels the same direction in the same day, and has demonstrated the ability to transit up to three vessels the same day in the same direction during periods of uncharacteristically high demand.

The Panama Canal announced in June that it will be lifting natural daylight restrictions for LNG transits on 1 October 2018, to offer added capacity to shippers. By lifting encounter restrictions, LNG vessels will also be able to navigate Gatun Lake at the same time, allowing two different LNG vessels to transit the Canal the same day in two different directions, offering more flexibility to the segment.

Of the 4000 vessels that have transited to date, roughly 52% have been from the container segment. Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vessels constitute another 27%, and LNG carriers, a relatively new segment to the Panama Canal, have been responsible for 10% of traffic. Dry and liquid bulk carriers, car carriers and cruise ships make up the remaining transits.

Other notable transits thus far include the MSC Anzu, which became the 1000th transit on 19 March 2017, the COSCO Yantian which registered the 2000th transit on 26 September 2017, and the MSC Caterina which registered the 3000th transit on 2 March 2018.

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