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Newbuilds: Expanding Solvang’s Panamax VLGC fleet

Seven new VLGCs, all settled on long-term charters, will expand Solvang’s Panamax capacity in the LPG segment from delivery in 2026 and 2027. All vessels will boost climate performance as they come ready for onboard carbon capture.

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The Panama Canal locks, measuring 294.13 by 32.31 meters, set definitive size limitations for ships navigating the critical passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. To assume an absolute load limit for Panamax is nevertheless wrong, which shipbuilders have proven several times.

Through a joint venture with Gunvor Group Ltd. Solvang has ordered five new Panamax VLGCs, scheduled for delivery from July 2026. In addition we have ordered two more vessels fully owned, seven in total. These vessels will boast a capacity to transport 10 % more gas than their predecessors. Since 2008 the cargo capacity for Panamax VLGCs has been progressively increased from 75,000 cubic meters to 80,000 and now to 88,000 cubic meters.

“This is the largest LPG load currently able to transit through the old Panama Canal”, states Tor Øyvind Ask, Fleet Director at Solvang.

EEOI revolution

A Panamax VLGC newbuild is a particular compromise between loading capacity, fuel consumption, operational speed and physical dimensions of the hull to pass through the canal locks. All these factors add up in the ship’s environmental performance, which is often measured EEOI, energy efficiency operating indicator. This indicates the amount of CO2 emitted from the ship per ton-mile of transport.

Underpinning an exceptional EEOI performance, we find environmental technology developed through 12 years of Solvang’s ECO LPG Carrier program. The technology includes hull optimization, shaft and propeller improvements, exhaust gas  recirculation, and an hybrid exhaust gas cleaning system.


Onboard carbon capture

In a well-to-wake perspective, environmental performance encompasses the total emissions generated from fuel processing, the efficiency of the engine and its cleaning technologies, to the eventual discharges into water and air. For Solvang’s latest VLGCs, dual-fuel LPG was evaluated but did not emerge as the best option within a well-to-wake analysis. Rather, these vessels are equipped with a single-liquid fuel system compatible with heavy fuel oil (HFO), low-sulphur fuel oil, marine gas oil (MGO),
biofuels, and e-fuels. The system is equipped with a single set of tanks, exhaust gas recirculation, and an hybrid exhaust gas cleaning system, which are all designed to be integrated with future onboard carbon capture and storage solutions.

Accordingly, the newbuilds will be ready for zero emission technology – the carbon capture system currently being installed for testing onboard Solvang’s pilot ship Clipper Eris.

«The newbuilds will be designed for onboard carbon capture, a solution we believe could be defining the next generation LPG vessels», states Solvang CEO Edvin Endresen.