Qatargas’ ‘Al Safliya’ has become the first Q-Flex to transit the Panama Canal.
The LNGC, which is 315 m in length and 50 m beam with a cargo capacity of 210,000 cu m transited northbound from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
“This transit reaffirms the expanded canal’s ability to reshape world trade and offer customers the benefits of economies of scale,” said Panama Canal Administrator (ACP) Jorge Quijano. “The Panama Canal team is grateful for the industry’s continued confidence in our services and looking forward to welcoming many more Q-Flex vessels in the future.”
Q-Flex LNGCs can now pass through the Panama Canal following an increase in the maximum allowable beam for vessels transiting the Neopanamax locks.
Implemented in June, 2018, the maximum beam allowed is 51.25 m, up from 49 m, as measured at the outer surface of a vessel’s shell plating and all protruding structures below the lock walls.
‘Al Safliya’ transited in ballast, having discharged a Qatari cargo in China.
This transit comes less than a month after the expanded canal welcomed its 6,000th Neopanamax vessel, a milestone marked by another LNGC, ‘Energy Liberty’, on 23rd April.
In 2018, the canal saw 340 LNGC transits, up from 181 transits in 2017. So far in 2019, the canal has handled 100 LNGC transits.
Due to a severe drought caused by an ‘El Nino’, the ACP has reduced the maximum authorised draft for vessels transiting the Neopanamax locks for the fifth time this year.
The latest maximum draft is 13.41 m, which became effective 30th April.