Q-Flex class LNG carriers fit the expanded Panama Canal


Expanded Panama Canal commemorates a milestone transit by a Q-Flex vessel, the world’s second largest LNG tanker class

The Panama Canal yesterday welcomed Qatargas’ Al Safliya, the first Q-Flex and the largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker to ever transit the waterway.

The tanker–which measures 315 meters in length and 50 meters in beam with an overall cargo capacity of 210,000 meters3 of LNG–transited northbound from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean.

Qatargas’ Al Safliya Transiting the Expanded Canal on May 12: Panama Canal Authority.


“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 Jorge L. Quijano.

Q-Flex LNG tankers 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 meters, up from 49 meters, as measured at the outer surface of a vessel’s shell plate and all protruding structures below the lock walls. Such an increase was made possible as a result of the efficiencies gained by the Panama Canal’s continued investment into its operations and resources, and due to the ongoing excellence and experience of its employees.

The Expanded Canal delivers environmental benefits as a result of its ability to help vessels shorten the distance and duration of their trips compared to alternate routes.

In combination with Al Safliya’s Q-Flex class design, which allows for the 40% reduction of emissions in comparison to other gas carriers, the Panama Canal and Qatargas saved nearly 10,000 tons of CO2 emissions compared to alternative routes, directly reducing of global emissions.

The Panama Canal is expecting to see further growth in its LNG transits following the new beam increase. In 2018, the Canal saw 340 LNG transits, up from 181 transits in 2017. So far in 2019, the Canal has seen over 100 LNG transits.

In April the Expanded Canal celebrated its 6,000th Neopanamax vessel to transit, a milestone marked by another LNG tanker, Energy Liberty, on April 23.

From Oil & Gas 360

The canal’s 6,000 Neopanamax ship, the Energy Liberty, transported LNG from the Cove Point LNG Terminal in Maryland to Japan. This is the Energy Liberty’s sixth transit through the waterway since its inauguration in 2016.

Constructed in 2018, the vessel has a cargo capacity of 165,000 m3 and measures 300 meters in length and 49 meters in beam.

The canal authority said cargoes of the 6,000 Neopanamax vessels that had transited to date (April 2019) consist of:

  • more than 50 percent have been from the container segment,
  • liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vessels constitute another 26 percent,
  • LNG vessels make up 11 percent and
  • dry and liquid bulk carriers, car carriers and cruise ships make up the remaining transits.


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