Panama Canal usage steadily increasing since June expansion

Dive Brief:

  • According to BlueWater Reporting, vessels utilizing the the Panama Canal have expanded by 11.3% since the canal's June 2016 expansion, American Shipper reported Monday. 
  • The updated Panama Canal can now handle up to 14,000 TEUs, with the current average 5,478 TEUs.
  • The Suez Canal still dominates, consistently handling over 10,000 TEUs per month. 

Dive Insight:

The Panama Canal may soon be competing with the Suez, with massive implications throughout the shipping industry. 

Though the Suez remains foremost in canal traffic, that may be changing, as the steady average increase in TEU capacity vessels passing through the Panama reveals. And though the Suez Canal's capacity doubles the Panama Canal, the numbers between the two are shrinking, with the Panama now at a maxiumum of 10,000 TEUs, and the Suez just 5,000 TEUs more. (Talk of Suezmax ships of 15,000-plus TEUs is still just speculation as of this point.) 

Aside from the Panama Canal's immediate and direct returns on its expansion, there are ripple effects in the shipping industry. Some locales are already planning for the influx of "neo-Panamax" ships by deepening their ports. The Port of Charleston, for example, is investing in a significant deepening project, moving from 45 to 48 feet in some spots, and 47 to 54 feet in others, all to accommodate increased traffic flowing from the Panama Canal. While the shipping industry still sorts out the dramatic events from 2016, ports and canals are already preparing for its recovery.

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Filed Under: Freight
Top image credit: hbarkan