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World's second-biggest LNG tanker class vessel to transit Panama Canal for first time

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A vessel in the world's second-largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker class is set to pass through the Panama Canal for the first time, the canal's chief executive said, expanding the Americas to Asia trade route for the fast growing commodity.

The 'Al Safliyah', a 'Q-flex' tanker able to carry about 210,000 cubic metres of LNG, is currently in the North Pacific and on its way to Panama after discharging a cargo from Qatar into Korea Gas Corp's (KOGAS) Tongyeong terminal on April 21, shipping data in Refinitiv Eikon showed.

"This is the first Q-Flex to transit the Panama Canal," Jorge Quijano, chief executive of Panama Canal Authority told Reuters.

The Panama Canal was expanded in mid-2018 to handle larger oil and gas tankers, but this is the first time an LNG tanker of this size will pass through it.

"This size of vessel can use the Panama Canal and could be deployed to carry LNG from the natural gas liquefaction plants in the U.S., Trinidad and Tobago and Peru," Quijano said.

The ship's charterer is Qatargas, according to LNG trading and broker sources.

Qatargas did not respond to a query for comment.

(Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; editing by Richard Pullin)