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First LNG carrier transits the expanded Panama Canal

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LNG Industry,

The Panama Canal Authority has confirmed the transit of the first ever LNG carrier through its expanded locks.

On Monday 25 July, the Shell-chartered Maran Gas Apollonia arrived at the Panama Canal from the Sabine Pass LNG terminal on the US Gulf Coast.

The expanded Panama Canal can accommodate 90% of the world's LNG tankers. As such, it is likely to have a major impact on global LNG flows. The expanded Canal will significantly reduce voyage times for LNG carriers departing the US East and Gulf Coast for Asia (by up to 22.8 days per roundtrip). Vessels departing the US Gulf Coast for the West Coast of South America also stand to benefit.

The Panama Canal Authority also notes that LNG carriers travelling from production plants in Trinidad and Tobago to regasification plants in Chile could save up to 6.3 days in transit time via the expanded Canal, compared to the Magellan Strait.

The Panama Canal has also instituted a new tolls structure to offer cost savings to LNG carriers 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.

New era

Panama Canal Administrator and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jorge L. Quijano, said: "The transit of the first LNG vessel through the new Panama Canal locks is a milestone in the waterway's history […] 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."

José Ramón Arango, Senior Specialist for the Liquid Bulk Segment at the Panama Canal Authority, added: "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 […] 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."

In addition to the LNG carrier transit, the expanded Panama Canal has welcomed 53 vessels since it was inaugurated on 26 June 2016, including 22 LPG vessels, 28 containerships and two vehicle carriers.

So far, the Panama Canal has received more than 229 reservations from various Neopanamax vessels.

Edited from press release by

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