The Panama Canal has 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 – a landmark voyage further reshaping the face of global gas trades.
The transit, which occurred this past weekend, marks the beginning of a new LNG commercial route between the US and Asia from the recently inaugurated Dominion Cove Point terminal in Maryland, the second American 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 of India. The LNG Sakura is carrying the first shipment of the 0.8m tons of LNG contracted per year by the Japanese energy company Kansai Electric.
Kansai Electric Power is the majority share owner of the LNG Sakura along with NYK.
The Panama Canal, which now offers seven slots to LNG carriers per week, said in a release it expects the waterway’s LNG traffic to grow by 50% this year over 2017, increasing from 163 to approximately 244 transits.
“As the global demand for LNG continues to grow, the Panama Canal remains committed to offering an efficient and safe transit that will benefit its customers, reducing travel times and unlocking new opportunities for world trade,” the release stated.