THE Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has posted the third highest annual tonnage in its history, welcoming 330.7 million Panama Canal tons (PC/UMS) on the September 31 closing of the 2016 financial year.
Containers were 36 per cent of the total cargo, continuing as the leading segment, totalling 119.6 million tons.
LNG carriers - which can now transit the waterway due to the expansion - contributed 1.5 million tons and surpassed Panama Canal forecasts.
The influx was due to shale production and the lifting of a 40-year-old ban, allowing the US to export oil for the first time in decades.
Unexpected were the arrivals of the first crude oil shipments via aframax and suezmax vessels.
A total of 13,114 vessels transited the Panama Canal during the fiscal period from October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016. Of these, 238 were neopanamax vessels that took advantage of the newly opened expanded waterway in its first three months of operation, accounting for 18.2 million tons.
"Despite the international shipping downturn this past year, we recorded one of the highest annual tonnage figures since the opening of the original canal 102 years ago," said Panama Canal Administrator Jorge Quijano.
"This latest success reinforces the continued strategic importance of the route and the growing value that recent investments in the canal will bring to the maritime industry," he said.
"Since opening, the expanded canal has seen major liners redirect service to the waterway to take advantage of the route's significant time savings," said the ACP statement.
"Thus far, nine neopanamax liner services have been deployed through the new locks, primarily on the US east coast to Asia trade route. Next month, an additional neopanamax liner service is expected to follow suit, further demonstrating the benefits provided by the new waterway," it said.
After containers by tonnage were bulk carriers (65.6 million tons), tankers (55 million tons) and vehicle carriers (46.7 million tons).
Because of the increasingly diverse traffic, the ACP instituted a new tolls structure to better meet shippers' needs and reflect changing cargo patterns.
The new tolls structure, which went into effect April 1, is tailored further to shippers and their cargo, assigning tolls per the specific type and amount of cargo being transited, as opposed to the more general approach previously utilised.
The canal also established a customer-loyalty programme for the container segment that allows frequent customers to receive preferred pricing once they have met a particular volume threshold.
Source: SchednetPrevious Next
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