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Panama Canal sets draft restrictions due to El Nino-related drought

The Panama Canal Authority said it will temporarily lower the maximum allowable draft for vessels transiting through the Panama Canal in September due to El Nino-related droughts, the first such restriction in nearly 20 years. The maximum allowable draft will be lowered to 11.89 meters (39 feet), from the current level of 12.04 meters (39.5 feet) from September 8, in a move that could affect almost 20% of vessels transiting the canal. "These temporary and preventive measures are due to an anticipated climatic variability event related to El Nino … it has triggered a drought in the Canal Watershed, causing the water levels of Gatun and Alhajuela Lakes to fall substantially below their average for this time of year," the Panama Canal Authority, or ACP, said in shipping advisory Friday. El Nino is a phenomenon marked by a warming of sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific and can […]

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Panama Canal expansion will allow transit of larger ships with greater volumes

Ships carrying crude oil and petroleum products are limited by size restrictions imposed by several of the main thoroughfares of maritime navigation: the Panama Canal, the Suez Canal, and the Strait of Malacca. These size restrictions provide another way to classify the large tankers that carry most of global crude oil and petroleum product trade. The Panama Canal , an important route connecting the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, currently has a limited role in global crude and petroleum product transport. The canal’s current size restrictions means smaller vessels, with capacities of approximately 400,000-550,000 barrels of light sweet crude oil, are the only ships that can safely pass through the canal. These ships are referred to as Panamax tankers, and their smaller cargos lead to a higher per-barrel cost. However, the Panama Canal is undergoing an expansion that will allow for the passage of […]

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Expansion of Panama Canal expected to open in 2016

MADRID (AP) — Panama’s president says the major expansion of the Panama Canal will be completed in time to open for business in the beginning of 2016. The project is expected to be finished in December 2015, and President Juan Carlos Varela says it will open early the following year, despite construction setbacks. A dispute with the European consortium that is expanding the canal led to a two-week work stoppage earlier this year. Varela said Tuesday in Spain that Panama is working closely with Madrid and with Spanish company Sacyr, which is leading the consortium. The $5.25 billion project aims to reduce congestion and expand capacity. The new channel will be able to accommodate ships with twice the cargo capability of vessels that currently traverse the existing canal.

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Panama Weighs Another Canal Expansion at Centennial Mark

A century after the U.S. steamship Ancon first sailed through the Panama Canal, a $5.3 billion expansion delayed by bickering contractors and angry workers is nearing completion. The problem is it might not be big enough. With the expansion 16 months behind schedule, canal administrator Jorge Quijano said officials are studying whether to dig a fourth set of locks to handle a growing fleet of super-sized ships. Those include the 400-meter-long “Triple E” vessels capable of carrying more than 18,000 containers, four times more than current ships passing through the canal. “We are always analyzing the market and as soon as we can economically justify it we will begin,” said Manuel Benitez, deputy administrator of the Panama Canal Authority, adding that he thinks the current expansion is sufficient for now. “If that changes and the demand exists we are ready to begin.” Panamanian officials today will celebrate the anniversary […]

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Japan Protests Planned Limits on Panama Canal Ships

Japan has protested to Panama about planned limits on the size of ships in the Panama Canal, saying they could prevent some U.S. natural gas from reaching customers in Asia. The issue has cast a pall over hopes for expanded trade in natural gas after the widening of the canal, scheduled for completion in early 2016. The U.S., enjoying a newfound abundance of natural gas thanks to technological advances, has opened the door to exports, and Japanese companies have eagerly signed up for U.S. supplies to make up for idled nuclear power after the March 2011 accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co. ‘s Fukushima Daiichi complex. The widening of the canal will open the way for the first time to liquefied-natural-gas carriers. Currently the LNG carriers must take a more circuitous route from eastern North America to Asia. But Panama has set a width limit of 49 meters for […]

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Expanded Panama canal 'should be in operation' by Jan 2016

Tokyo (Platts)–7Mar2014/225 am EST/725 GMT The Panama Canal Authority expects the expanded canal "should be in operation by January 2016" after a trial period, Silvia de Marucci, ACP’s manager of marketing and forecasting, said Friday. Marucci made the comments in response to a question at the International LP Gas Seminar in Tokyo. "In January 2016, we are expecting to be operational" after a period of testing at both the Atlantic and Pacific side of locks, Marucci said. At the moment, the expansion is 65% complete, she added. The latest target is seven months behind a previous estimate of June 2015. The project was originally scheduled for completion this year. Next week, ACP intends to sign a final agreement with its contractor for the expansion project, Marucci told Platts ahead of the conference Friday. "Works were stopped about a month ago but resumed two weeks ago and we are very […]

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Expanded Panama canal ‘should be in operation’ by Jan 2016

Tokyo (Platts)–7Mar2014/225 am EST/725 GMT The Panama Canal Authority expects the expanded canal "should be in operation by January 2016" after a trial period, Silvia de Marucci, ACP’s manager of marketing and forecasting, said Friday. Marucci made the comments in response to a question at the International LP Gas Seminar in Tokyo. "In January 2016, we are expecting to be operational" after a period of testing at both the Atlantic and Pacific side of locks, Marucci said. At the moment, the expansion is 65% complete, she added. The latest target is seven months behind a previous estimate of June 2015. The project was originally scheduled for completion this year. Next week, ACP intends to sign a final agreement with its contractor for the expansion project, Marucci told Platts ahead of the conference Friday. "Works were stopped about a month ago but resumed two weeks ago and we are very […]

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Deal Reached on Panama Canal Expansion

Panama and a consortium of European construction firms, which have been locked in a bitter dispute over cost overruns on a multibillion-dollar project to expand the Panama Canal, say they have reached a preliminary deal to end the spat and ensure final completion of the work. A final agreement still needs to be signed but both sides said this could happen as early as this weekend. Panama says the deal will allow for the expansion of the canal, which stretches 50 miles through the Central American isthmus between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, to still be completed by the end of 2015. The $5.2 billion construction project on the 100-year-old waterway began in 2007, an effort to widen and deepen the canal so larger ships could fit through. When finished, Panama stands to greatly increase its more than $1 billion in annual revenue from toll fees. The U.S., which […]

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