STILL TOO EARLY TO UNDERSTAND THE ECONOMICS OF THE PANAMA CANAL EXPANSION

A total of 69 Neopanamax vessels transited the Expanded Panama Canal since the inauguration on June 26, 2016. Specifically, 40 containerships, 24 liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) carriers, three vehicle carriers and two liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers, the first for the waterway, have transited the canal.

With these LNG vessels, the canal opened trade possibilities to this new market segment. Additionally, the Panama Canal has received 250 reservations and counting for the Expanded Canal, including seven cruise ship reservations, according to World Maritime News.

Since the Expanded Canal opened for business, major liners have rerouted service to the Panama Canal to take advantage of the significant time savings the waterway provides.
Is the expansion bringing a “new world order” to global gas and power markets? It is still too early to know but here are a few significant facts.

The trips are significantly shorter:

From Point Fortin (Trinidad and Tobago) to Quintero (Chile) changes from 14.2 days to 7.9 days when ships route through the Panama Canal, exactly 6.3 days less, according to vesseltracker.

The trip from Port Arthur, TX to Sodeguara/Yokophama (Japan) changes from 47.3 days to 29.9 days, less 17.4 days.

Cost of shipment is reduced. Currently, charter rates for spot LNG are approximately $25,000, down from $100,000 or more per day.

In the case of LNG specifically, the time it takes to go from any liquefaction terminal to the four regasification terminals on the west coast of the Americas, or the time it takes to get from Port Arthur in the U.S. to any of the Asian regasification terminals are reduced which means savings and thus lower cost.

The canal fees and the Canal Authority becomes the arbitrator of the price. Canal fees are high thus the cost to charter a ship and fuel it might be more attractive on a long haul through the South Atlantic to India or Chile.
If canal fees are low the short haul will be the privileged route.

We will need as few months to understand and assess the real economics of the Canal expansion but so far the Canal seems very attractive..

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