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Panama Canal proposes modifications to toll structure

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LNG Industry,

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has published a proposal for modifications to its current toll structure, signaling the start of a 30-day formal consultation period for industry feedback.

Jorge L. Quijano, Panama Canal Administrator, has, over the last few months, reportedly met with canal customers and industry representatives in Europe, Asia and North America. Discussing these meetings, Quijano said: “These meetings with customers in Asia, Europe and North America have been extremely valuable in providing us with a deeper understanding of the industry today, the challenges faced by individual market segments, and the projected demand for the Neopanamax locks.”

Following these meetings, and after analysing the current utilisation and productivity of the Neopanamax locks, it was deemed necessary to provide additional incentives to the containership segment, which is the largest user of the expanded waterway, to revise the tolls for LPG and LNG vessels, and to reclassify container/breakbulk vessels. These changes were approved by the company’s board of directors on 25 May 2017.

Quijano said: “The proposed modifications safeguard the competitiveness of the waterway, the value of the route, and facilitates the Canal's goal of providing an efficient and reliable service to the global shipping community.”

ACP claims that, for the containership segment, the proposal offers more attractive rates per loaded containers on the return voyage, applicable only to those Neopanamax vessels deployed on the Canal route in the head and back haul legs, and when: the utilisation rate of the northbound transit is more than or equal to 70%; and the time lapse between the northbound and the southbound transit is not more than 25 days. In order to encourage the use of the services provided by the local transportation hub, any extra days that the vessel needs to carry out port-related activities in the Panamanian terminals will not add to the 25-day period.

In addition to this, proposal also changes the tolls charged to both LNG and LPG vessels, but keeps the units of measurement unchanged, as these have proven to be in accordance with industry standards. Furthermore, the tolls proposal reassigns the vessels classified by ACP as ‘container/breakbulk’ into the ‘general cargo segment’. These vessels are currently part of the ‘others segment’.

ACP claims that this reassignment will lead to more attractive tariffs for customers in this category as the general cargo tolls are lower. This modification has been made in response to a request made by customers during the 2015 tolls hearing and consultation process, and because container/breakbulk vessels operate in a manner similar to that of general cargo vessels.

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