On June 22, 2008, Qatargas celebrated the safe arrival of the first Q-Flex liquefied natural gas carrier to the United States.
The Qatargas vessel Q-Flex Al Gharrafa is on charter to RasGas carrying a cargo for Cheniere Energy and will discharge at the newly commissioned Sabine Pass LNG Terminal in Louisiana. This is the first Q-Flex vessel to call to the US and the first for Sabine Pass, making this the largest LNG carrier to ever transit the Sabine Channel.
The Al Gharrafa is one of the pioneering new generation of LNG ships with a capacity of approximately 216,000 cubic meters. The vessel built at Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) in Korea is owned by a joint venture between Qatar Gas Transport Company (Nakilat) and Overseas Ship Holding Group (OSG) and is on long-term charter to Qatargas 2.
Ahmed Al Khulaifi, Chief Operating Officer, Commercial & Shipping said: "This is yet another significant milestone and industry first for Qatargas and its new fleet of vessels. It is the first time a Q-Flex has called at a terminal in the US and we look forward to being able to ship many more cargoes safely to the US in the future."
Muhammad Ghannam, Managing Director of Nakilat said, "The arrival of the Al Gharrafa at Sabine Pass, Louisiana is also a key milestone for Nakilat. It is the first vessel in our fleet of fifty-four LNG carriers to deliver Qatar's LNG to the United States."
Q-Flex, membrane type vessels, represent a new generation of LNG ships and are propelled by two slow speed diesel engines, making them more efficient and environmentally friendly than traditional steam turbines. Equipped with an on-board re-liquefaction system to handle the boil-off gas, these vessels are able to deliver almost 100% of the cargo to the customers.
Qatargas is currently undergoing major expansions, with new projects under construction and nearing completion. Current LNG production at Qatargas is 10 million tonnes per annum and by the end of the decade will be producing 42mtpa of LNG.