The Panama Canal marked the two-year anniversary of the inauguration of its Canal Expansion, the largest enhancement project in the waterway's 103-year history.
To date, the Canal has transited 3,745 Neopanamax vessels, traffic that confirms the route's efficiency and the maritime industry's confidence in the Expanded Canal.
Jorge L. Quijano, Panama Canal Administrator, said: “Two years ago, we pledged to usher in a new era for world commerce.
“Today, as we reflect upon our countless achievements and ever-expanding impact, we proudly reaffirm this commitment to the global maritime community.”
The performance of the Expanded Canal's Neopanamax Locks continues to exceed expectations. Over the past two years, the route has recorded notable milestones such as:
- Setting a new monthly tonnage record of 38.1 million tons (PC/UMS) in May 2018, the third such time the waterway has set a monthly tonnage record in the past two years.
- The transit of the Canal's largest cruise ship to date, the Norwegian Bliss, weighing more than 168,000 gross tons and carrying nearly 5,000 passengers.
- Recording year-on-year growth, in terms of number of transits and total cargo volumes.
- The transit of the largest capacity container vessel to-date, the CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt, with a Total TEU Allowance (TTA) of 14,863.
Increased experience with the Neopanamax Locks and continued investment into its operations have allowed the waterway to provide additional capacity, flexibility and efficiency to shippers. Such recent offerings include:
- Two additional reservation slots for the Neopanamax Locks, bringing the total number of slots from six (at the time of the inauguration) to eight, and giving shippers greater flexibility and options for booking their desired transit dates.
- An increase in maximum allowable beam for vessels transiting the Neopanamax Locks, accommodating larger vessels and greater tonnage.
- An increase in the maximum allowable draft for transiting the Neopanamax Locks to 14.33 meters (47.0 feet) Tropical Fresh Water (TFW).
The impact of the Neopanamax Locks is demonstrated across all segments, though perhaps in no segment more than LNG, which has emerged as the waterway's fastest growing. In just the past two years, this segment has seen:
- A total of 358 LNG transits since June 26, 2016.
- The transit of three LNG vessels in one day in April 2018.
- Offering one of the eight Neopanamax reservation slots per day to LNG shippers, but transiting two LNG vessels in one day on 14 separate occasions.
- The transit of the first-ever shipment of LNG from the Dominion Cove Point terminal in Maryland to Japan on April 28, 2018.
Moving forward, the Canal's LNG traffic is expected to grow by 50% by the end of FY 2018 compared to FY 2017, increasing from 163 to approximately 244 transits, for which the Panama Canal stands ready to receive.
Manuel E. Benitez, Deputy Administrator for the Panama Canal Authority, said : “The Expanded Canal is redrawing global trade routes, in the LNG industry and across segments, as shippers have more opportunity to take advantage of the economies of scale provided with the Neopanamax Locks.
“Thanks to the careful planning and strategic optimization of our operations, we're confident the Expanded Canal will facilitate further growth in international trade and have a far-reaching impact in communities around the world.”
With this anniversary, the Canal also reaffirms its commitment to environmental sustainability, prioritizing water savings and reducing our carbon footprint.
In the two years of the Neopanamax Locks' operations, the waterway has recycled 60 percent of the water used per transit and is on track to reduce an estimated 160 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the next 10 years.
This week, Deputy Administrator Benitez joins Silvia de Marucci, Executive Manager, Economic Analysis and Market Research Division, in Washington, D.C. for the 27th World Gas Conference.
While at the Conference, which is being hosted in the United States for the first time in 30 years, Mr. Benitez and Ms. de Marucci will discuss the landmark two-year anniversary and the waterway's growing relationship with LNG and the energy industry.