Lisbon, July 8th, 1497. With 170 men and a fleet of four ships, Vasco da Gama starts his journey into the unknown. He will be the first European to reach India by sea, on the “Sao Gabriel”, a 27-meter long caravel of 178 tons.
Sines, October 25th, 2016. It’s been two days I am in Vasco da Gama’s hometown, waiting for the sea to calm down and allow the berthing of the “Cheikh Bouamama”, a 220-meter long LNG tanker of 52’855 tons.
Vasco da Gama arrived in India on May 20th, 1498. His presents to the King of Calicut were modest – clothes, a few hats, bits of coral, some sugar and two barrels of oil.
After letting me endorse the Bill of Lading of the LNG to be discharged, the Master kindly invites me to share his lunch on board. As I wave goodbye, he tells me he won’t let me leave his good vessel without a souvenir from Algeria. He asks his officer to bring me … two bottles of olive oil.
Five centuries apart, same gifts. And LNG trading is definitely still linked to oil.