The opening of the expanded Panama Canal paves the way for the transit of liquefied natural gas carriers transporting volumes from the emerging US Gulf Coast LNG export projects.
Speaking at the opening on Sunday, Panama Canal Administrator and CEO Jorge L. Quijano said the reservation for the first LNG vessel, which will transit in late July, has been made.
The inaugural transit of the expanded Panama Canal began with the passage of Neopanamax vessel COSCO Shipping Panama on its way to Asia, port authority said in a statement.
The vessel set sail on June 11 from the Greek Port of Piraeus carrying 9,472 TEUs and measuring 299.98 meters in length and 48.25 meters in beam.
It entered the Agua Clara Locks on the Atlantic side of the country and concluded its transit crossing through the Cocoli Locks on the Pacific side.
The newly expanded canal has the capacity to accommodate LNG carriers with the capacity to transport 173,000 cbm to 180,000 cbm of liquefied natural gas.
In 2015, ACP approved a tolling structure for LNG carriers, noting that tolls will be based on cubic meters.