Panama Commemorates One-Year Anniversary of Expanded Canal - Global Trade Magazine
  July 4th, 2017 | Written by

Panama Commemorates One-Year Anniversary of Expanded Canal

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  • The expanded Panama Canal has directed more cargo to US east coast ports.
  • The Panama Canal looks to further position Panama as as western hemisphere logistics hub.
  • Over 1,500 neopanamax vessels transited the expanded Panama Canal in it first year.

Panama commemorated the one-year anniversary of the inauguration of its expanded canal last week, a significant milestone in the history of the 102-year old waterway and for the global maritime industry.

More than 1,500 neopanamax vessels have transited the expanded canal. Containerships represent approximately 51.3 percent of traffic through the expanded canal, followed by liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers, which represent approximately 31.5 and 9.1 percent, respectively. Other segments such as bulk carriers, tankers, car carriers and passenger vessels have also transited the new locks. Panama Canal tonnage increased by 22.2 percent in the 2017 fiscal year.

A total of 15 out of 29 liner services that use the Panama Canal now employ neopanamax vessels. The majority of these liner services connect ports in Asia and the US East Coast. Around six vessels transit the expanded canal per day, surpassing original forecasts of two to three daily transits for the first year of operation.

More than 90 percent of the global LNG fleet can now transit the waterway for the first time in history, opening a new market and allowing LNG producers in the United States to ship natural gas to Asia at competitive prices.

LPG traffic has grown exponentially since the inauguration of the expanded canal, quickly becoming the second biggest driver of neopanamax traffic and accounting for 31.5 percent of transiting vessels.

The Panama Canal launched the Green Connection Environmental Recognition Program, a new initiative that recognizes customers who demonstrate excellent environmental stewardship and encourages others to implement technologies and standards that reduce emissions. This program includes the Environmental Premium Ranking and the Green Connection Award.

The expanded canal contributed to the reduction of 17 million tons of CO2 during its first year of operation thanks to the shorter traveling distance and larger cargo carrying capacity that it offers to customers.

“These transits are a testament to the global maritime industry’s confidence in the expanded canal,” said Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano. “The countless accomplishments set over the past year have surpassed even our own expectations for the project.”

The Panama Canal now has several infrastructure projects planned to provide greater connectivity and transshipment opportunities to the region. The Panama Canal has plans to concession a roll-on roll-off terminal to serve as a center for the redistribution of vehicles, machinery, and heavy equipment; a 3,000-acre logistics park to further strengthen the logistics services in the region; an LNG terminal on the Atlantic side of the waterway to provide LNG bunkering and redistribution capabilities; and plans to advance the Corozal Container Terminal.

During the one-year anniversary, the vessels that transited the expanded canal received commemorative plaques. The honored vessels included Albert III: A liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vessel, chartered by Petredec Services Limited; Ever Loading: An 8,500+ TEU capacity neopanamax containership, owned by Evergreen; Valparaiso Express: A 13,000+ TEU capacity neopanamax containership, owned by Hapag Lloyd; Yuhsho: A LPG vessel, chartered by ENEOS GLOBE Corporation; and CMA CGM Melisande: An 8,700+ TEU capacity neopanamax containership, owned by CMA CGM.