• ITVI.USA
    16,030.520
    117.340
    0.7%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.809
    0.016
    0.6%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.220
    -0.080
    -0.4%
  • OTVI.USA
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    115.560
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  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
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  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
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  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
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    6.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
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    0.220
    10.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.110
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    6.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    0.000
    0%
  • ITVI.USA
    16,030.520
    117.340
    0.7%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.809
    0.016
    0.6%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.220
    -0.080
    -0.4%
  • OTVI.USA
    16,016.550
    115.560
    0.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.950
    -0.570
    -16.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.610
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  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
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  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
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  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
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  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
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  • WAIT.USA
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    0.000
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American ShipperShipping

Panama Canal reports record throughput despite possible expansion delays

Cargo volumes passing through the Central American gateway in the 2015 fiscal year increased 4.3 percent compared to fiscal 2014, according to the Panama Canal Authority.

   The Panama Canal saw record cargo volumes pass through its locks in the 2015 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, despite recently reported delays to the opening of the expanded waterway, according to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP).
   ACP reported cargo throughput for the canal increased 4.3 percent to 340.8 million Panama Canal tons (PC/UMS) in fiscal 2015 compared to fiscal 2014. The previous yearly record of 333.7 million PC/UMS tons was set in FY2012.
   Containerized cargo continued to lead the way in terms of volumes passing through the canal, followed by dry bulk, liquid bulk and automobiles. Containerships brought 3.7 percent more cargo by PC/UMS tonnage compared to the previous year, as seven new liner services – five in the Asia-U.S. East Coast trade, one connecting Europe with the U.S. West Coast, and one north-south loop – were introduced in January of 2015, contributing to the increase.
   The liquid bulk segment increased 23 percent, the most of any reported segment, thanks to “booming diesel, gasoline and propane exports from the U.S. Gulf Coast to South America and Asia,” according to ACP. Car carrier volumes grew 5.2 percent as a result of exports from the West Coast of Mexico to the U.S. East Coast.
   “The Panama Canal continuously works to provide its customers with reliable, first-rate service in response to evolving global shipping and maritime needs,” Panama Canal Administrator and CEO Jorge Quijano said of the record 2015 volumes. “This milestone attests to this commitment, which will only continue to increase after the opening of the expanded Canal.”
   ACP has said the canal’s massive expansion project should be completed on schedule despite leaks in the new, larger locks. The authority said contractors have discovered the cause of the seepage, but they still expect the waterway to be open by next April.
   The Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) consortium, responsible for the construction of the new locks, “verbally indicated that the completion date for the Expansion Project will remain April 2016, as planned; however, the ACP is awaiting formal confirmation from GUPC, in the form of a comprehensive report which should also include the root cause of the detected filtrations,” according to ACP.
   In addition to reinforcing the specific sill that was leaking, GUPC will also reinforce the first and second sill in the Cocoli Locks and the first three sills in the Atlantic-facing Agua Clara Locks as a preventative measure, though these sills have not had any issues as of yet.
   Quijano recently told the Wall Street Journal he wants to see steel reinforcements installed before giving a final completion date for the expansion project.
   “The contractors say the leaking locks won’t delay the scheduled opening next April,” Quijano said. “I still believe it’s going to happen by then, but I will be able to say more once some of the corrections are done and I see in Panama all of the steel reinforcements, which at this point they are not. At present, I can only take the word of the contractors.”
   The widened Panama Canal will be able to handle containerships with capacity of up to 12,500 TEUs, over 50 percent larger than the current 8,000-TEU limit. The $5.25 billion expansion project is currently running $200 million over budget, Quijano told WSJ, but he said he wouldn’t know the final cost until ACP reviews additional claims from GUPC.
   Ports up and down the U.S. East Coast have been preparing for the increase in volumes projected once the expanded canal is fully operational. The South Atlantic ports of Savannah, Ga. and Charleston, S.C. are dredging their harbors, increasing depth from 42 feet to 47 feet and from 45 feet to 52 feet, respectively, in anticipation of larger containerships from Asia.
   The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey already completed dredging its harbor to 50 feet and is spending another $1.3 billion to raise the clearance of the Bayonne Bridge from 151 to 215 feet above the Kill Van Kull so that taller, post-panamax vessels can safely sail under it and reach container terminals on Staten Island, and in Elizabeth and Newark, N.J. That project is facing its own delays due to harsh winter weather and construction challenges, and is now expected to be completed in fall of 2017.

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