Expanded Waterway Pushes Panama Canal’s Tonnage Up

Image Courtesy: Panama Canal Authority

The Panama Canal has handled 330.7 million tons of goods in fiscal year 2016, the third highest amount ever recorded, contributed by strong container traffic, newly introduced segments and the expanded canal.

A total of 13,114 vessels transited the waterway during the fiscal period from October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016.

Of these, 238 were Neopanamax vessels that took advantage of the expanded canal during the first three months of its operation, accounting for 18.2 million Panama Canal tons (PC/UMS).

“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,” Jorge L. Quijano, Panama Canal Administrator, said.

“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 added.

Since opening, the expanded waterway has seen major liners redirect service to the waterway to take advantage of the route’s significant time savings, according to Panama Canal. So far, nine Neopanamax liner services have been deployed through the new locks, primarily on the US East Coast to Asia trade route. An additional Neopanamax liner service is expected to follow suit next month.

The container segment continued to be the leading source of canal traffic, accounting for more than 36 percent of the total cargo received. Container vessels contributed 119.6 million PC/UMS, including 13.4 million PC/UMS that passed through the expanded canal. The next leading segments by tonnage were bulk carriers with 65.6 million PC/UMS, tankers with 55 million PC/UMS, and vehicle carriers with 46.7 million PC/UMS.

In FY17, the Panama Canal will continue its focus on enhancing the logistics infrastructure in Panama by advancing projects such as the Corozal Container Terminal, which is currently in the bidding stage.

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