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Panama Canal welcomes first LNG shipment from U.S. to Japan

Staff Writer |
The Panama Canal welcomed the inaugural transit of the LNG Sakura as it carried the first-ever liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipment from the Dominion Cove Point terminal in the United States to Japan.


The transit, which occurred this past weekend, marks the beginning of a new LNG commercial route between the United States and Asia from the recently inaugurated Dominion Cove Point terminal in Maryland, the second U.S. LNG export terminal to come online after Sabine Pass began operations in 2016.

Dominion Cove Point has two main clients: ST Cove Point, a consortium consisting of Sumitomo Corporation and Tokyo Gas; and Gail Global LNG, a subsidiary of GAIL LTD of India. The LNG Sakura carries the first shipment of the 0.8 million tons of LNG contracted per year by the Japanese energy company Kansai Electric.

The Bahamas-flagged LNG Sakura is a Neopanamax vessel, measuring 300 meters in length and 49 meters in beam. Its transit on Saturday began in the Agua Clara locks on Panama’s Atlantic side and headed towards the Cocolí locks in the Pacific.

Kansai Electric Power is the majority share owner of the LNG Sakura (70 percent); NYK Line owns the remaining stake.

The Panama Canal has emerged as an important link in the global LNG supply chain ever since the Inauguration of its Expanded Canal in 2016, when the waterway first began transiting LNG vessels.


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