Home / Shipping / Aviation/ World’s 2nd-biggest LNG tanker-class vessel to transit Panama Canal for first time

World’s 2nd-biggest LNG tanker-class vessel to transit Panama Canal for first time

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Monday, 6 May 2019 00:00


A floating gate opens as a Panama flagged crane ship named Oceanus navigates through Cocoli locks during a test of the new set of locks of the Panama Canal expansion project on the Pacific side in Cocoli, on the outskirts of Panama City, Panama – REUTERS

SINGAPORE, (REUTERS): A ‘Q-Flex’ LNG tanker, the world’s second-largest class of liquefied natural gas carriers, is set to pass through the Panama Canal for the first time, the canal’s CEO said, expanding the Americas to Asia trade route for the fast-growing commodity. 

The ‘Al Safliyah’, which can carry about 210,000 cubic metres of LNG, is on its way to Panama from the North Pacific after discharging a cargo from Qatar into Korea Gas Corp’s (KOGAS) Tongyeong terminal on April 21, shipping data in Refinitiv Eikon showed. 

“This is the first Q-Flex to transit the Panama Canal,” Jorge Quijano, chief executive of Panama Canal Authority told Reuters. 

It comes after the canal was expanded in mid-2018 to handle larger oil and gas tankers. 

“This size of vessel ... could be deployed to carry LNG from the natural gas liquefaction plants in the US, Trinidad and Tobago and Peru,” Quijano said. 

The ship is on a long term charter to Qatargas, the world’s biggest LNG producer, according to LNG trading and broker sources. Qatargas did not respond to a query for comment. 

The vessel’s owner, Qatar Gas Transport Co (Nakilat), said in March that it had assessed the ability of ‘Q-Flex’ class LNG carriers to safely pass the Panama Canal’s new locks in the near future. 

At 120,000 deadweight tonnes, the ‘Q-Flex’ LNG tanker, is not the biggest ship to have passed through the Panama Canal, which has accommodated container ships of around 140,000 tonnes. 

‘Q-Flex’ type tankers are able to carry up to 50% more volumes than conventional LNG tankers, and are typically used by Qatargas to export its LNG to Europe or Asia. 

The biggest LNG carriers, known as ‘Q-Max’, are able to carry up to 266,000 cubic metres of LNG, but are too large to use the canal. 

“Qatar has been pushing to use ‘Q-Flex’ to utilise their vessels more efficiently,” a source with a North Asian buyer said. 

Qatar and partner Exxon Mobil Corp earlier this year gave the go-ahead for their jointly-owned US Golden Pass LNG project, which could boost demand for such vessels when the project starts up in 2024. 

“If it can successfully transit Panama even if empty, it could in the future be used for triangulations where it discharges a cargo in Japan or Korea and then from there goes to load a new cargo in the US Gulf,” said Ralph Leszczynski, head of research at ship broker Banchero Costa in Singapore. 

Quijano said 687 LNG tankers have transited the Panama Canal since July 2016 following an earlier expansion. Volumes rose to 11.5 million tonnes last year from just 300,000 tonnes in 2016. 

“We expect further growth this year of another 22% over last year,” he added.

Share This Article

Facebook Twitter


1. All comments will be moderated by the Daily FT Web Editor.

2. Comments that are abusive, obscene, incendiary, defamatory or irrelevant will not be published.

3. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.

4. Kindly use a genuine email ID and provide your name.

5. Spamming the comments section under different user names may result in being blacklisted.


Today's Columnists

Revitalising the tourist inflows

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Easter Sunday 21 April terror acts have dealt a very heavy blow on tourism. The inflow has dried up for the moment while it can be presumed that forward selling too may have become sluggish. It is noted that Government has introduced a series of meas

Truth has now arrived, and falsehood has perished

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

“And say: Truth has now arrived, and Falsehood has perished: for Falsehood by its very own nature is bound to perish.” Holy Quran: Chapter 17 Verse 81. Every discussion, debate and discourse that we see and hear over the audio – visual and prin

Afghan refugees face Jaffna’s hostility: These Sri Lankans are crazy

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Abbas Ahmadi, an IT specialist, was rather high in the Afghan provincial civil service. He is of Hazara ethnicity and persecuted by the majority Pashtuns who ironically dominate the ruling faction as well as the rebelling Taliban.The Hazaras are inpa

One month gone: No charge on over 200 Catholics murdered

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

It’s been one month since the murder of around 300 innocent Catholic children and parents but no has yet been charged for the biggest negligence of duty that Sri Lanka has seen in recent history. The President and Prime Minister have both denied a

Columnists More