Panama Canal tanker transits increase 5%

27 October 2008 22:30  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Tanker traffic through the Panama Canal increased by almost 5% in the fiscal year ended on 30 September, but total traffic and tonnage fell slightly, the waterway authority said on Monday.

Tanker tonnage increased more than 8%, but total tonnage declined 1.1% - from 312.9m tonnes to 309.6m tonnes - with much of the drop attributed to less container traffic, the Panama Canal Authority said in a statement.

Tanker traffic, which accounted for 14% of the transits, increased mainly due to stronger crude shipments from the US Gulf coast to Chile for the generation of electricity. Natural gas supplies to Chile from Argentina were suspended during the fiscal year, the canal authority said.

From October 2007 through September 2008, there were 19 fewer trips through the canal - 14,702 - compared with 14,721 during fiscal 2007, the authority said.

The canal authority said a slowing US economy had reduced container traffic and cargo shipments to and from US ports via the canal.

The canal's $5.25bn (€4.20bn) expansion project is seen as a way to increase container traffic through the waterway by adding a third set of locks.

Begun in September 2007, the project to widen the canal would allow the waterway to handle post-Panamax-sized ships carrying up to 12,000 shipping containers at a time.

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By: Lane Kelley
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