SINGAPORE, May 14 (Reuters) - A ‘Q-Flex’ liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker has completed a transit through the Panama Canal for the first time, becoming the largest LNG vessel by cargo capacity to do so, charterer of the vessel Qatargas said late on Monday.
The ‘Al Safliyah’, which can carry about 210,000 cubic metres of LNG, has successfully completed the 82-kilometre transit on May 12, the company said. Qatargas is the world’s largest LNG producer, with an annual production capacity of 77 million tonnes per annum (mtpa).
It comes after the canal was expanded in mid-2018 to handle larger oil and gas tankers.
“Qatar is committed to enhancing the depth and flexibility of our global LNG supply portfolio even further, and this milestone achievement will undoubtedly lead to future business opportunities,” said Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, minister of state for energy affairs in Qatar and the president and chief executive of Qatar Petroleum.
A ‘Q-Flex’ LNG tanker, which is the world’s second-largest class of liquefied natural gas carriers, can carry up to 50 percent 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.
Qatargas said that the successful transit of this vessel through the Panama Canal means that it creates future triangulation opportunities for the 31 Qatari Q-Flex vessels, allowing them to discharge cargoes in the Pacific Basin and then proceed to the Atlantic basin to load their next cargo. (Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; editing by Gopakumar Warrier)