In June, thousands of people celebrated the opening of the new and wider Panama Canal locks, doubling the canal’s capacity and allowing much larger vessels to cut across Panama between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
The expanded canal was opened by Panama Canal Authority Administrator, Jorge Luis Quijano, who introduced the “third set of locks” concept to the world’s maritime community under the motto “The Great Connection”.
“More than a hundred years ago, the Panama Canal connected two oceans,” Quijano said. “Today, we connect the present and the future. It is an honour to announce that we did it together, providing this great connection to the world. This is the beginning of a new era.”
On June 26, the inaugural transit of the Neo-Panamax Canal began as MV COSCO Shipping Panama passed through the new Atlantic locks in Aguas Claras. WWL representatives witnessed the transit from Cocoli Locks on the Pacific side, where Panama President Juan Carlos Varela led the opening ceremony attended by more than 25,000 jubilant Panamanians, canal employees and customers, shipping and trade executives, as well as heads of state and dignitaries from around the world.
“More than a hundred years ago, the Panama Canal connected two oceans. Today, we connect the present and the future.”
The Panama Canal has doubled its capacity with a new traffic lane combined with the expanded width and depth of the lanes and locks for larger ships to pass through. The new, larger size of ships, called Neo Panamax, are about one and a half times the previous Panamax size and can carry over twice as much cargo.
Mary Carmen Barrios adds, “As a Panamanian, I am very proud that the expanded canal project has been completed. WWL has been part of this achievement with every single booking and transit made through the waterway.”
The Expanded Panama Canal
Annual tonnage travelling through the Panama Canal will increase by 118 %, from 275 million tonnes to 600 million tonnes. While the expanded locks are wider and deeper than before, they use less water because of water-saving basins that recycle 60 per cent of the water used per transit. USD 5.25 billion has been invested in this nine-year-long project.
New transit solution for Panama Canal
We are moving to ensure that its customers’ vessels pass through the new Panama and Suez Canals with the optimum efficiency, speed and safety thanks to a fresh Ships Agency ‘canal transit’ solution.
PANAMA: The service, which will be run by dedicated local teams, has already picked up its first contract, securing an agreement with leading very large gas carrier (VLGC) owner and operator Avance Gas for the Panama Canal transit of its neo-panamax ships Passat and Breeze.
WSS is answering market demand with a service that will help customers maximise the potential of new shipping infrastructure projects.
“The expansion programmes have the potential to deliver huge time, capacity and cost efficiencies for shipowners and operators, but only if their transits are problem free,” explains Steffen Langlete, Product Manager, Ships Agency WSS.
“We are very excited about the current development going on in our ships agency business. The Canal Transit offer is just one of many upcoming offers from our product and services portfolio,” he adds.
Speaking about the on-going agreement with Avance, Account Manager Eric Ramm adds: “WSS Agency has a strong relationship with Avance, which appreciates our global network and standardised high quality services for its diverse international fleet.
“We understand their needs and they understand the benefits of our integrated service, products and expert staff. We’re delighted that they’re the first customer to take advantage of this brand new service and look forward to many more canal transits with them, and our other valued clients, in the future.”