The Panama Canal One Year After Expansion

The Panama Canal Expansion was designed with the following objectives in mind: to maintain the competitiveness of the interoceanic waterway and preserve the value of the route; to increase Canal capacity, allowing for the transits of larger ships; to reduce the consumption of water during each lockage; to improve its safety and efficiency; and to sustain tonnage and profitability growth.

On June 26, 2016, the Panama Canal opened its new set of locks, thus guaranteeing the transits of Neopanamaxsize vessels. After more than one year of operations, we have witnessed more than 1,700 transits of these larger ships, which are distributed among several market segments.

The containerships account for 52% of the aforementioned transits, followed by LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) vessels with 31%, and LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) ships with 9%.

The rest include dry bulkers, car carriers and passenger vessels. Very large ships carrying coal from Puerto Nuevo, Colombia are already transiting through the Panama Canal with raw materials destined for Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico, taking advantage of the lower per-unit costs. The LPG and LNG vessels are departing East Coast and Gulf ports of the United States and/or Trinidad & Tobago, destined for Mexico and Asia. Their deployment through the Panama route saves them hundreds of sea miles. These two segments hold a very important share of the total Canal market, while generating huge trade potential for the route. 

Argelis Moreno de Ducreux, Senior Specialist — Leader Liner, Panama Canal Authority, Panama

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