Methane freighters are ships built for transporting Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) from the natural gas producer countries to the consumer countries. The technological characteristics of these ships are very sophisticated, as the gas has to be maintained at a temperature of -160º C over long distances. They are ships with a load capacity of between 30,000 and 150,000 m3.
Thanks to technological advances, increasingly efficient ships are being built, capable of reducing the boil-off effect (LNG that is reconverted to gas). Thanks again to these advances, these minimal quantities of gas are reused as fuel for the ship and the rest is again converted into LNG. The number of methane freighters grows year after year in order to meet a demand for gas that is everyday greater throughout the world. According to the data available, the fleet of methane freighters is currently at a figure of over 160 ships. The forecasts indicate that the demand for methane freighters will have doubled by 2015, with even bigger methane freighters, which will reach a load capacity of over 200,000 m3. This is an expanding activity, which began in 1959, the year when the first cargo of LNG was transported by sea from Louisiana in the United States to Canvey Island in the United Kingdom. Currently, the Sagunto regasification plant may receive Q-Flex vessels (216,000 m3) and Q-Max (265,000 m3).