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Bit Qatari LNG tanker heads for United States

Tanker to carry what could be a second test cargo for the new Golden Pass LNG terminal.

October 7, 2010 1:26 by

Qatari liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker Al Dafna is heading to the United States, according to AIS Live ship tracking data on Thursday, carrying what could be a second test cargo for the new Golden Pass LNG terminal.

The AIS ship tracker on Reuters showed that the “Q-Max” tanker, which with a capacity of 266,000 cubic metres is one of the world’s largest super-cooled gas carriers, passed the Algerian capital of Algiers on Wednesday night.

At its current speed of just under 19 knots the vessel could arrive at the terminal near Port Arthur, Texas by Oct. 18, according to calculations using

The terminal operator said on Wednesday that Golden Pass — where construction was delayed by hurricane damage sustained in 2008 — would take its first test cargo from the 210,000 cubic metre Al Khuwair tanker, which is expected to arrive on Oct. 20.

Analysts say it could need up to five test cargoes to prepare the terminal for commercial operation, but the operator has declined to comment on expected deliveries.

The Golden Pass LNG terminal said on Wednesday it had still not got permission to take in the first cargo after applying to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in late September.

The start-up of Golden Pass LNG — a joint venture between Qatar Petroleum (70 percent), ExxonMobil (17.6 percent) and ConocoPhillips (12.4 percent) — could absorb some LNG that is expected to enter an already well supplied global market as big Qatari production facilities open in the next few months.

Work on Golden Pass began in 2006 before the United States lost much of its appetite for imported gas because of a surge in North American shale gas production.

Qatari vessels now rarely deliver to the United States because of a slide in prices, which has left many LNG producers scrambling for new markets and most terminals on the U.S. Gulf Coast sitting idle for months.

(Reporting by Daniel Fineren, editing by Jane Baird)

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