Toll Modification Seeks to Increase Number of Transits

Six or seven Neopanamax vessels transit the new locks per day and the Panama Canal Authority (ACP, for its acronym in Spanish) seeks to increase the use of this infrastructure in order to obtain a higher return on the investment required for its development, estimated at more than USD250 million, and for that purpose, submitted a modification to its toll system and tonnage rules.

 After a year of having implemented the new toll system of the Panama Canal, the entity has presented a modification to the price system, through the incorporation of new tariffs for each market segment.

 The container ship segment has become the number one transit for the new Neopanamax locks with more than 45% participation, followed by Liquefied Petroleum Gas/Liquefied Natural Gas (LPG/LNG). Precisely these two segments are towards which the ACP has focused on the proposal to modify tolls.

 According to the document presented by the ACP, the savings that the shipowner would have using the Canal route on their return trip would be around 6.8%. The entity makes clear that the loyalty program for container ships will continue to be applied in the same manner and under the same conditions as at present.

 The ACP justifies these changes in the Canal's toll system only one year after the new tonnage and toll rules have been implemented, indicating that it seeks to encourage the Southbound return transit of Neopanamax container ships and to promote the increase in volumes of cargo capacity, as well as the transportation of containers with cargo through the interoceanic route.

 Another of the arguments of the ACP for this modification in the segment of container ships is to encourage the growth of the average size of vessels of current and future lines services.

 Currently, the members of the alliance called “Ocean Alliance” have deployed the largest vessels through the new Neopanamax locks, such as Cosco Development and Oocl France with 13,926 TEUs (a measurement equivalent to a 20 foot container) capacity and both have transited Northbound and what the ACP is trying to do is to get those kind of ships to sail back Southbound.

 Meanwhile, for the LPG/LNG segment, the proposal “proposes an adjustment of toll rates for ships carrying LNG. The proposed adjustments reflect changes in demand on major routes, utilization levels and productivity of Neopanamax locks”.

 The public hearing to be held on July 5, 2017. Subsequent to that date, the entity will evaluate and analyze the comments received, and once the relevant changes are incorporated in the proposal, the Cabinet Council will have to officially approve the modifications. The date of implementation of the modifications to the toll structure is scheduled for October 1, 2017, beginning of the fiscal year of the ACP. 

 Source: Capital Financiero