LNG El Paso Sonatrach

LNG El Paso Sonatrach

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LNG El Paso Sonatrach

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LNG El Paso Sonatrach was a liquefied natural gas carrier of the El Paso Marine Corporation which was active in the late 1970s. Although she was US owned, the ship was registered in Liberia because of tax and economical reasons.


The Sonatrach was along with her sister ships Paul Kayser and Consolidated built in Dunkirk, France in 1977. They all operated out of the Consolidated Natural Gas Company Cove Point LNG import facility (now owned by Dominion Resources) in the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) was loaded and shipped from a Sonatrach facility in Arzew, Algeria.

The Sonatrach's call sign was 5LIG. In addition to normal radio communication equipment, she was also equipped with satellite telecommunications equipment supplied by INMARSAT.

Paul Kayser incident

In 1979, the El Paso Paul Kayser (named after the founder of the El Paso Corporation) was stranded off the coast of Algeciras, Spain. She hit a rock pinnacle at 14 knots and received some severe damage to the outer hull and the containment system. Luckily, her membrane LNG tanks held, and a major operation to save both the ship and her liquefied natural gas cargo was started. The Sonatrach, which was heading for France for repairs was diverted to Algeria to get her tanks cooled down, which took one day. The Sonatrach then proceeded to the location of the Paul Kayser to transfer the cargo, an operation which took about three days. She then sailed home to the United States to unload...
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