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Two years of the expanded Panama Canal

Aug 13, 2018
On 26 June, 2018 the Panama Canal passed its two year anniversary since its expansion, the largest enhancement project in the waterway's 103-year history.

Two years of the expanded Panama Canal

To date, the Canal has transited 3,745 Neopanamax vessels, traffic that confirms the route's efficiency and the maritime industry's confidence in the expanded canal.

"Two years ago, we pledged to usher in a new era for world commerce," said Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L Quijano on the anniversary. "Today, as we reflect upon our countless achievements and ever-expanding impact, we proudly reaffirm this commitment to the global maritime community."

The performance of the expanded Canal's Neopanamax locks continues to exceed expectations. Over the past two years, the route has recorded notable milestones such as:

  • Setting a new monthly tonnage record of 38.1 million tons (PC/UMS) in May 2018, the third such time the waterway has set a monthly tonnage record in the past two years.
  • The transit of the Canal's largest cruise ship to date, the Norwegian Bliss, weighing more than 168,000 gross tons and carrying nearly 5,000 passengers.
  • Recording year-on-year growth, in terms of number of transits and total cargo volumes.
  • The transit of the largest capacity container vessel to-date, the CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt, with a Total TEU Allowance (TTA) of 14,863.

Increased experience with the Neopanamax locks and continued investment into its operations have allowed the waterway to provide additional capacity, flexibility and efficiency to shippers. Such recent offerings include: 

  • Two additional reservation slots for the Neopanamax locks, bringing the total number of slots from six (at the time of the inauguration) to eight, and giving shippers greater flexibility and options for booking their desired transit dates.
  • An increase in maximum allowable beam for vessels transiting the Neopanamax locks, accommodating larger vessels and greater tonnage.
  • An increase in the maximum allowable draft for transiting the Neopanamax locks to 14.33 metres (47 feet) Tropical Fresh Water (TFW).

With this anniversary, the Canal also reaffirms its commitment to environmental sustainability, prioritizing water savings and reducing carbon footprint. In the two years of the Neopanamax locks' operations, the waterway has recycled 60% of the water used per transit and is on track to reduce an estimated 160 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the next 10 years.

The expansion, completed in 2016, included the construction of a new set of locks on the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the waterway, creating a third lane of traffic and doubling the cargo capacity of the waterway. While the expanded locks are 70 feet wider and 18 feet deeper than those in the original Canal, they use less water due to water-saving basins that recycle 60% of the water used per transit.



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