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Panama Canal Q2 Figures Unveiled

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

14 June 2006

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) last week announced second quarter operational metrics for fiscal year 2006. During Q2, there was an increase in net tonnage, total transits and transits of Panamax vessels.

Canal Waters Time (the average time it takes a vessel to transit the Canal including waiting time for passage) increased in Q2, and booking slot utilization remained steady. These metrics are based on operations from January through March, the second quarter of the ACP's 2006 fiscal year.

Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS) tonnage increased 5.7% – to 75.0 million PC/UMS tons from 70.9 million PC/UMS tons. In addition to a spike in tonnage, the Canal realized an increase in traffic.

Total Canal transits increased 3.5% – to 3,862 transits from 3,730. Moreover, transits of Panamax vessels (100 feet or more in beam and the largest vessels that can pass through the Canal) increased 7.5%– to 1,501 transits from 1,396.

“The ACP’s hard work reaped rewards this past quarter, as demonstrated by the figures we are presenting today. The Canal is seeing more tonnage, increased traffic and a drop in accidents. I commend the ACP’s world-class workforce that relentlessly strives to ensure a safe and reliable service for our customers,” announced ACP Maritime Operations Director Jorge L. Quijano.

The official accident rate decreased 3.4% – to 1.04 accidents per 1,000 transits from 1.07 accidents per 1,000 transits in FY 05. An official accident is one in which a formal investigation is requested and conducted.

As previously mentioned, overall CWT increased 15.8% – to 30.08 hours from 25.98 hours. However, CWT for booked vessels (those ships holding reservations) increased slightly by 3.4% – to 16.85 hours from 16.30 hours.

“The rise in CWT can be attributed to several factors. Foremost, world trade is booming and demand for the Canal’s services is increasing. Second, grain exports (through the Gulf ports to Asia) have increased significantly, especially since the infrastructure in the New Orleans area has shown firm signs of recovery from the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Third, the additional surge in traffic occurred during the Canal’s peak season, thus creating an unusually high backlog,” explained Mr Quijano.

Utilization of the booking system increased 11.6% – to 2,006 booked transits (those ships holding reservations) this year from 1,797 last year. As a consequence of this, the percentage of booked transits to ocean-going transits increased 9.6% – to 59.9% this year from 54.7% last year.

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