Panama Canal posts solid tonnage growth in 2021
The Panama Canal Authority is heralding a solid year with solid increases in tonnage crossing the Panama Canal in the just ended fiscal year 2021. Reflecting the trend of shipping companies seeking to use large vessels to carry heavier loads, however, the number of transits remained stable compared to the previous year.
For the whole year, the Panama Canal reported a record annual tonnage of 516.7 million tonnes from the Panama Canal (PC / UMS). This represents an 8.7% increase from 2020 and a 10% increase from 2019.
Several measures have been taken to adapt to the evolution of the shipping industry towards larger ships and to help the canal achieve an increase in Neopanamax transits. To facilitate this transition, the Panama Canal has increased the maximum length allowed for vessels passing through Neopanamax Locks, a move that authorities say was made possible by the waterway’s experience in operating the canal. expanded. The waterway also began to offer a draft of 50 feet, the highest level allowed at Neopanamax Locks.
Despite these and other efforts to attract traffic to the canal, the authority reports that total transits remained essentially stable in 2020. A total of 13,342 vessels used the canal in 2021 with LNG carriers and LPG at the top with growth in both the number of transits and total tonnage. They also saw a sharp decline of nearly seven percent in chemical carriers, and cruise ships were largely absent from the channel due to the global hiatus in passenger operations for most of the year.
Record-breaking winter temperatures and strong growth in the US gas industry along the Gulf of Mexico and the US east coast contributed to a better 30% increase in LNG tonnage using the channel as well as an increase in LNG tonnage using the channel. 28% of the number of transits. Likewise, the tonnage of LPG carriers increased by more than 18% while the number of transits increased by almost 17% during the year.
The increase in container ship activity reported around the world, however, has not resulted in an increase in transits through the Panama Canal. They report that the number of transits by container ships is only increasing by 2%, although the category’s tonnage has increased by almost 11% for the year.
Other categories recorded smaller gains. Vehicle carriers and ro-ro increased by just over 15%, while dry bulk increased by just over 10%.
While the Panama Canal Authority reports that it was proud of its resilience in the face of last year’s challenges and the strong performance of its workforce, it is also considering measures to support traffic growth. and the continued recovery from the pandemic. Among the efforts under consideration and expected to be approved in the coming weeks are proposals to change tolls in particular, including efforts aimed at cruise ships.
The results came as the Panama Canal marketed its 107th anniversary in August 2021. This year also marked five years since the opening of the largest Neopanamax locks.