In a major first on Oct 1, four liquefied gas carriers transited the Panama Canal in one day through the Neopanamax Locks.
The largest number on the same day was three, on Apr 17 this year. The four ships, with beams of up to 160ft/49m were:
Sailing northbound: Ribera del Duero Knutsen, 96,740dwt, operated by Knutsen OAS Shipping, Norway, and has a cargo capacity of 173,000 cu m and Maran Gas Pericles, 92,776dwt, of Maran Gas Maritime Inc, of Greece, and has a capacity of 174,000 cu m;
Sailing southbound: Torben Spirit, 95,253dwt, of Teekay Shipping Glasgow Ltd, Bahamas flag, and of 174,000 cu m capacity and Oceanic Breeze, 75,300dwt, of Ocean Breeze LNG Transport, Marshall Islands flag, and of 155,300 cu m capacity.
This year, the Panama Canal Authority changed its Transit Reservation System to offer four slots a day to LNG vessels, the aim being not only to improve the Canal’s efficiency, but also to curb the number of unused reservations, especially in the LNG sector, by tailoring the reservation process and removing cancellation fees for slots booked for LNG carriers.
The Canal Authority said the changes are to reinforce the Canal’s capacity to handle the expected demand for transits by LNG vessels coming from the United States once new export terminals begin operation.