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Panama Canal Gauges Toll Hike Sentiment

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

01 May 2013

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has held a series of meetings with shipping companies in South Korea to discuss the future toll structure that will be implemented when the Canal Expansion Program is completed.

Canal officials met with the Korea Shipowners' Association, Hanjin Shipping and STX Pan Ocean, Ltd, as well as several vehicle and heavy equipment companies.

Discussing the visit, Panama Canal Authority Administrator Jorge L. Quijano, said: "In addition to the discussions about the future toll structure, we also took the opportunity to update our customers on the Expansion Program and other initiatives in operations being undertaken by the ACP to improve our current service and addressing questions about the expanded Canal."

Canal officials also met with SK Energy and to discuss the new possibilities that the expanded Canal will open for the trade of liquefied natural gas (LNG). "This is maybe one of the most relevant potential markets that the expanded Canal will facilitate, from the US Gulf to Asia," Quijano said.

The Panama Canal has engaged with several industry stakeholders since December 2012, including the International Chamber of Shipping, the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners, and the International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners, to discuss its tolls.

In March 2013, Maersk Line announced that it believed operating through the Suez Canal rather than through Panama would be a more profitable route for its shipments between Asia and the United States' east coast undoubtedly making the Panama Canal wary that other major shipping lines may follow suit.

The Canal is investing USD5.2bn to build a new lane of traffic along the cut through the construction of a new set of locks, which will double the waterway's capacity and allow for longer, wider vessels. It was announced in late January that the project is more than half way completed.

TAGS: marine

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