Panama Canal Expanded celebrates five years of operation

Panama Canal Expanded celebrates five years of operation

02 July 2021

Panama Canal Expanded celebrates five years of operation

Since the first transit through the Neopanamax locks, approximately 13,700 ships have crossed the Canal.

The Expanded Panama Canal completed five years of operations on June 26, "its contribution to strengthening the contributions of the interoceanic route to the country is clear and unquestionable, in addition, it has consolidated the competitiveness of the Panamanian route by facilitating the transit of ships from larger size with a safe, continuous and reliable service, "said the Panama Canal through a statement.

Since the first transit through the Neopanamax locks, approximately 13,700 vessels have crossed the Canal, representing 28% of the transits in this period. These transits represented 54% of the cargo volume and 58% of the Canal toll revenue, which reflects the value that the expansion has contributed to the competitiveness of the route through Panama.

"In these five years, we have gone from the learning stage to the consolidation phase of an efficient and safe service to our clients, while increasing our direct contributions to the country through the National Government by virtue of the operation of the new locks, "said administrator Ricaurte Vásquez Morales. "None of this would have been possible without the vote of confidence that Panamanians gave the Canal, through the referendum, to carry out the Expansion Program, and the professionalism and commitment of the Canal's human team," he added.

For her part, the deputy administrator Ilya Espino de Marotta also highlighted the commitment of the Canal and of each of its collaborators to continue giving the best for the benefit of the country, which has been demonstrated in these five years of operation: "When we visualize the expansion We think that the maximum capacity of the container ships that we would serve would be 12,000 containers, but today we transit ships with the capacity to load up to a little more than 15,000 containers ".

About the Expanded Canal

Adding a third transit lane with capacity for larger vessels has also strengthened the competitiveness of the service offered by the Panama Canal, providing economies of scale and attracting new markets such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) ships, to the point to position itself as the fourth in number of transits in the neopanamax locks.

Container ships continue to be the main client of the expanded Canal with 42% of transits; followed by liquefied petroleum gas vessels, 22%; bulk carriers, 15% and LNG, 14%.

In addition, the service of the Panama Canal to its clients has also been strengthened with the recent increase in the length allowed in the Neopanamax locks. Last May, shipping companies were notified that the maximum length at the Neopanamax locks went from 367.28 meters (1,205 TEUs) to 370.33 meters (1,215 TEUs). The increase means that a large part (96.8%) of the world's container ship fleet is now able to transit by water.

The route through Panama, being shorter, also plays an important role in reducing greenhouse gases. By making it easier to transport more cargo in fewer trips, the Neopanamax locks have saved approximately 40 million tons of carbon dioxide since 2016.

According to Jorge Pitti, Locks Operations General Foreman, "each year of the Canal expansion has been an adventure, during which we have consolidated the teams in charge of the transit service to achieve success."

"This 2020 experience, impacted by the pandemic, has strengthened us and we must record it in our history as an extraordinary achievement of this great team of the Panama Canal that offered an uninterrupted service to global trade," said Pitti, with 35 years of experience in the Panama Canal.