Monday, October 14, 2019

Revamped Canal Sees Record Tonnages as Gas Transits Continue to Increase

Container Traffic Still the Principal User of the Waterway
Shipping News Feature

PANAMA – It seems the extensive works carried out by the Panama Canal Authority (PCA) to widen and deepen the waterway and install even bigger locks at choke points is paying dividends. Although the management processes have not always been without controversy, the expanded canal has been steadily attracting more trade in the past couple of years, with larger Neopanamax ships able to use it, particularly useful for container vessels which make up over a third of the canal traffic.

Figures released last week show the Canal closed its financial year after recording a record tonnage under the Panama Canal Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS). Total tonnage for fiscal year 2019 was 469 million Panama Canal tons, a 6.2% jump as against FY2018. With this figure, the waterway exceeded the 450.7 million PC/UMS tons projection for FY2019, as well as the record tonnage of 442 million PC/UMS tons registered in the previous fiscal year.

During FY19, transits for the liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) segments rose by 37.6% and 6.9% respectively, representing the largest gain across all segments. Additional segments with significant transit increases included crude product tankers with a 5.6% increase and vehicle carrier/RoRo with a 5.5% increase, compared to the previous fiscal year.

In terms of tonnage, the container segment continued to dominate with 164.87 million PC/UMS tons during FY 2019, of which 126.2 million PC/UMS tons transited through the Neopanamax Locks. Leading segments also include bulk carriers at 76.5 million PC/UMS tons, vehicle carrier Ro/Ro at 53.1 million PC/UMS tons, chemical tankers at 44.3 million PC/UMS tons, LNG vessels at 43 million PC/UMS tons, LPG vessels at 37.8 million PC/UMS tons, crude product tankers at 22.6 million PC/UMS tons and passenger vessels at 9.9 million PC/UMS tons.

The main users of the waterway during FY19 were the United States, China, Japan, Chile and Mexico and the main routes using the Panama Canal by cargo tonnage in FY19 include between the US East Coast and Asia, followed by the US East Coast and the West Coast of South America, Europe and the West Coast of South America, the US East Coast and the West Coast of Central America, and the US inter-coastal route.