The Panama Canal could take much longer to become a new route for specific types of ships, with vessels such as oil tankers needing to undergo significant retrofits before they are able to fit through the new locks, according to Reuters.
This has become a bigger concern to traders, who, post-expansion, have realised the potential for gaining access to international markets, particularly in the oil trade.
The bigger oil tankers will be the vessels that require the modifications, since the new locks use tugboats, as opposed to locomotives to pull vessels.
Sandith Thandasherry, CEO of India-based vessel servicer Navgathi Marine Design and Construction, said: “I know for sure that the number of people who are applying is increasing after the opening.”
Daniel Abt, an Inspection Engineer for Vessel Classification Society DNV GL, said: “The current market conditions are challenging for many ship owners. So retrofit measures can be a financial strain.”
In recent news, it was found that Iran are looking to accelerate the US$50 billion Nicaragua Canal project, in collaboration with HKND, which could be a plan to rival Panama, especially when it comes to allowing bigger oil tankers to pass through.
A study released recently by PGI Intelligence found that, at 427 metres long and 55 metres wide, the new locks would be, which suggests that this is another class of ship that may need to be modified to increase efficiency.