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Wednesday, August 20 2014 @ 02:31 PM EDT

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Jorge Luis Quijano Takes Over As New Administrator of the Panama Canal

Canal Daily Operation
Jorge Luis Quijano - New Administrator of the Panama Canal
Jorge Luis Quijano - New Administrator of the Panama Canal
The engineer Jorge Luis Quijano, became this Tuesday, September 4, the new administrator of the Panama Canal, after having received the transfer of command from the engineer Alberto Aleman Zubieta, who was in charge of the important waterway for 16 years. During his speech given as part of the formal ceremony, Quijano said: "I replace in this position the engineer Alberto Aleman Zubieta, an exceptional Panamanian with which the country and the Canal will be in permanent debt. Thanks Alberto for what you built in the Canal, and for letting me be part of your team," he said.

The new administrator said as soon as he was informed of the Board's decision, he understood the appointment as the new Administrator of the Panama Canal was a recognition, not to him, but rather of the work of the men and women, who for so many years have made the Panama Canal a cause for national pride and international exclamation. He similarly praised with enthusiasm of the appointment a professional engineer such as Manuel Benítez as the new Deputy Administrator.

Quijano said he now assumes the responsibility, convinced that with a broad vision, hard work and strong determination, dreams can come true. Moreover, he added that the future of the Panama Canal is full of challenges, which certainly will not be easy, but that history has taught that "nothing has never been easy in relation to the Canal. It's titanic construction was not, nor was regaining our sovereignty and the administration of the canal, nor showing the world we could handle it effectively and efficiently, tilting its mission to bring wealth to our country, and to contribute to our welfare through its management, development, progress and improving the quality of life for all Panamanians," he said in his speech.

"Today the Canal expansion is in full implementation and within a few years Panama will offer the world and herself, new opportunities for growth and productivity. In this way we are preparing to capitalize on the first day of the full potential of our new canal, and it requires the confidence that the majority of Panamanians placed in us during the referendum of 22 October 2006," said the new administrator.

Jorge Luis Quinajo, be in office as the Administrator of the Panama Canal for a period of seven years. (Estrella)

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Martinelli Highlights Independence Between Government and ACP

Canal Daily OperationPresident Ricardo Martienlli said today is a historic day for Panama, and demonstrates the independence that exists between the National Government and the Panama Canal Authority, because he was not even part of the official ceremony. "I congratulate the engineer Alberto Aleman Zubieta for being an exemplary Panamanian, and for taking the reins of the Panama Canal during the most crucial moments, and I'm sure he will continue working for the country," he said. Martinelli said the day he resigned from the Board of Panama Canal, he told Quijano he would be the next administrator of the Panama Canal, because of his background and experience. Martinelli said the Panama Canal provides a significant percentage, accounting for 8% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country. He said the project to expand the Panama Canal will finish one or two months late, and he said it would change the international maritime industry. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: I love freudian slips. They're so revealing. This morning, in his speech as the outgoing, former Administrator of the Panama Canal, Alberto Alemán Zubieta was saying goodbye as he left office. He was recounting some of the more important and memorable moments of his time at the helm of the ACP. When he started talking about the national referendum during which the Panamanian people decided to go ahead with the expansion of the Panama Canal, he started to say "and the people gave us their vote..." but then he stopped in mid-sentence, caught himself, and said the same thing but with different words. Meaning, today, at this moment in time, he didn't want to say anything related to politics, elections, political races, and he sure as hell didn't want to say something like "...and the people responded by backing me up with their votes..." Whoops. Your freudian slip is showing. Rumors are running hot and heavy that the CD is trying very hard to recruit Alberto Alemán Zubieta as their presidential candidate for the 2014 elections. In fact the CD does not have a very strong option who might be able to replace Martinelli at the helm, and many people recognize Alberto Alemán Zubieta would almost be a walk-on favorite to win - given his 16 years of executive experience, name recognition, and accumulated respect. Yeah, the CD is salivating at the prospect, no doubt about that. Well, Ferrufino and Burrillo might not be to happy about it, but them's the breaks.

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Alemán Zubieta Finishes Term As Panama Canal Administrator

Canal Daily OperationAlberto Aleman Zubieta ends his time in office today, as the Administrator of the Panama Canal. Alemán Zubieta has held the job for 16 consecutive years, and he will be replaced in office by Jorge Quijano, who has 36 years experience in the Panama Canal Administration. Alemán Zubieta said through his Twitter account "I ​​conclude my 16 years of service. I thank God, my family, and my country for permitting me to serve during this exceptional time." He added: "My deep gratitude to the men and women with whom I had the honor of working in these 16 years. They are a national asset."

From 1996-1999, he served as the Administrator of the former Panama Canal Commission - the federal agency of the U.S. Government, which was responsible for the administration and operation of the Panama Canal until December 31, 1999. During the following years, he served concurrently as the Administrator of the Panama Canal Commission and the ACP, ensuring that decisions made under the Commission continued under the new Canal Authority. In 2005 the Board of Directors re-elected him to continue to lead the ACP until August 2012. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: There are some who have mentioned the possibility that Alemán Zubieta might make a good presidential candidate for the Cambio Democratico political party. Considering that he has more than 16 years executive experience running the Panama Canal, and that he also has instant name recognition, he would be an instant "walk on favorite" and would probably win easily in 2014. In short, he would be a great pick, if the CD could recruit him.

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National Assembly Approved Panama Canal Budget For FY2013

Canal Daily OperationThe Budget Committee of the National Assembly on Monday approved on third reading, Bill No. 495 of the budget of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) for fiscal year 2012-2013, which amounts to $2.38 billion dollars. The main source of budget revenue lies in canal tolls paid by ships transiting the Canal, estimated at $1.8367 billion, representing 77% of total revenues. These amounts are $8.3 million higher compared to fiscal year 2012. The approval of Bill No. 495, which dictates the Budget of the Panama Canal Authority for the fiscal year starting on 1 October 2012 through 30 September 2013, was performed in the presence of the Minister for Canal Affairs Romulo Roux, and the Panama Canal administrator Alberto Aleman Zubieta. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: As a result of this budget, the Panama Canal will be paying just over $900 million into the coffers of the Panamanian government in profits. The rest will be spent on operations, maintenance, and the expansion of the Panama Canal. Once the expansion is complete in a couple of years, the Panama Canal will be making about $2 to $3 billion dollars per year in profits for the government of Panama. Also known as Metro Line 2, Metro Line 3, etc. Over the next five years the annual budget for the Panamanian government will creep up to about $20 billion per year. From 2014 - 2019 the next government will oversee the spending of a total of about $100 billion dollars in state funds. And, that's what the politicians are fighting over. Who gets to control the spending of that money. Yeah, sure, flag, country, patria, poor people, kissing babies, etc. It really comes down to the money. The people in this photo are smiling because they are the ones who are currently spending the money. It makes them happy.

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Panama Canal Presents 2012 - 2013 Budget

Canal Daily OperationThe Panama Canal Authority (ACP) will invest $835.5 million dollars in fiscal year 2013, of which $690.5 million will be for regular investments, and $145 million for the Canal Expansion Program. This line item is distributed in various projects that are, mostly, the Maritime Services applet in the amount of $150.3 million, which is directly related to traffic operations and the safety of vessels. The remainder will be allocated to lines of energy, water and corporate services.

The Executive Vice President of the Administration and Finance Department of the ACP, Francisco Miguez, said the budget includes 39 projects of continuity and 66 new projects that range from the replacement of cranes, floating equipment, and new computer systems to bring ACP computing platforms to the highest standards. It also includes continuing the normal dredging performed in the Culebra Cut, rehabilitation of floodgates, work on the approaches and the widening of the waterway, which are part of the maintenance and improvements.

The budget also includes major new projects, such as the new bridge on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal at a cost of approximately $277 million dollars, a project that is about to open for bids. Another project will be the building of a site (landfill) to avoid flooding when Gatun Lake exceeds its capacity, a project in the initial stages, at present the feasibility study, location, size and technical characteristics, among others, for $186 million dollars.

The Panama Canal expansion project is 43% complete, and to give continuity to the project costs are budgeted in the order of $1.044 billion dollars - divided in administering the program for $24 million, $902 million for the locks, $49 million for the Pacific approach, $28 million for dredging, and $40 million for water supply.

Revenue - The ACP has budgeted toll revenues on the order of $1.8367 billion, representing 77% of the total. The Panama Canal will also receive $392.9 million for services related to traffic, revenues mainly from the production of water and electricity for $134 million, and another $17.4 million in interest income.

Transits - Projections made to design the new budget reflect transits through the Panama Canal will remain at levels similar to those of 2012, a decrease of 0.7% or 2.4 million tons in the amount of capacity PC / UMS (Universal Measurement System of vessels). In 2012, total recorded was 332.5 million this fiscal year and it is estimated that in 2013 will be 330.1 million.

According to Francisco Miguez, this year 332 million tons are forecast, however, "we are seeing the end at 329 million tonnes, which is not very different from the estimate, which is a normal variation in this industry." He said that for 2013 there are predicting 330.1 million tons, which means that there is very little growth from year to year, mainly because it is a reflection of how the economy is behaving globally. He said "the major markets that transit through the waterway are gradually emerging from a recession, with some uncertainty, mainly by events in Europe." He said the economic and financial crisis in different European countries and the United States have a situation that "could be cataloged as structural weakness of a post recession from a year and a half ago, which impacts on international trade in several ways, including maritime traffic." "We see very modest growth next year in terms of both tonnage and contributions to the state," said Miguez during his presentation. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: The 2012 - 2013 ACP budget predicts the Panama Canal will generate about $940 million dollars in profits that will be turned over to the central government's coffers. Once the newly expanded Panama Canal opens sometime in 2015 (probably) those numbers will about double - and the Panama Canal will be generating about $2 billion dollars per year in profits for the nation. This is remarkable when you consider that, in 1977, the entire GDP of the whole country was about $2 billion dollars (now more than $30 billion). So from 1977 to 2011 the total size of the Panamanian economy has increased by 1430%. By comparison, in the same period of time, from 1977 to 2011, the total size of the US economy has increased by 650%. The performance of the Panamanian economy has been - in a word - astounding.

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JSA Expresses Concern On Panama Canal's Proposed Hike In Toll

Canal Daily OperationBy EDU LOPEZ - MANILA, Philippines – The Japanese Shipowners’ Association (JSA) has expressed concern over the proposed increase in tolls announced by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) early this year. JSA stressed that the toll increases were disproportionate even when the cost of canal expansion is brought into the equation. It understands that many comments by other parties expressed similar concerns to the ACP, which has revised its proposal for the classification of ship types, and delayed the introduction of the new toll regime by three months.

Although JSA appreciates this action, it is very marginal and does very little to obviate the cost penalties to the shipping industry which will apply if the ACP plans are implemented in their present form, especially under the current circumstance where shipping companies were beset by operating losses during the adverse economic environment of 2011, that exceeded $6 billion.

JSA noted that Panama Canal’s toll increases for 5 years from 2006 to 2011t already took sizable increase; for container vessel by 63.6% (10.4% per year), similarly, tanker tolls up by 51 %(8.6% p.a.), where both dry bulk and car carriers tolls increased by 46.5 & 46.3% (7.9% p.a) with proposed increases in 2012 & 2013 to apply on top of those earlier increases.

JSA is deeply disappointed with this outcome, because it does not respond in any shape or form to its previous requests which were that the Panama Canal Authority to withdraw its proposal for toll increases in 2012 and 2013.

Panama Canal should review the current consultation process in favor of a sufficient consultative dialogue that establishes toll adjustment guidelines that are stable, reasonable and transparent over an agreed longer and mutually-agreed upon period of time.

Under the “Proposals for the Expansion of the Panama Canal,” the canal expansion costs could be recovered within several years after the expansion work is complete, and our study indicates that it can be possible without such extensive and frequent toll increases, said JSA.

The Panama Canal’s current pricing policy of constantly increasing tolls imposes an unduly excessive burden on canal users, said JSA.

JSA urges the Panama Canal Authority to rescind the revised proposal, and hold a substantial consultative dialogue with maritime representatives on long-term pricing guidelines, with the aim of making them stable, reasonable and transparent.

Although there is a substantial distance between JSA’s position and that of Panama Canal regarding the toll issue, JSA sincerely believes, on the other hand, that such mutual and constructive consultations could establish a win-win relationship between both Panama Canal and Canal users, whereby such constructive dialogue could also address an issue of increasing the efficiency of the Canal’s operation.

JSA stressed that it is ready to contribute actions for enhancing a more efficient operation of the Canal through closer dialogue, which could lead to increasing the long-term value of the Canal and the number of transiting vessels with stable Canal tolls.

“Our request to hold closer dialogue would also present a positive answer to concerns of the Japanese government, which filed its comments in May 2012 urging the Panama Canal to take into account the Canal users’ opinions and also took up the issues at several inter-government meetings where the same concerns were shared among the maritime administrations of the relevant countries,” said JSA.

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Lawmakers in Nicaragua Vote To Build Their Own Canal

Canal Daily OperationLawmakers in Nicaragua have approved a law aimed at creating an alternative to the Panama Canal. President Daniel Ortega says the $30 billion dollar project would lift the country out of poverty. "We can make this dream a reality," said Edwin Castro, legislative leader of the majority Sandinista party. "I don't know if they will find the funding for this canal, but it is hopeful," said opposition legislator Wilfredo Navarro.

The initiative, approved by 85 of 91 lawmakers, establishes a legal system for the proposed 200 kilometer (124 mile) long canal that would link the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Plans to build a canal across Nicaragua date back centuries, but were overtaken by the construction of the Panama Canal which opened in 1914. In recent years successive Nicaraguan governments have revived the concept as a way to promote development in the second poorest country in the Americas.

Feasibility studies are expected to cost $350 million dollars, while the actual construction of the new canal could hit $30 billion dollars. The government is proposing to raise the funds through a public/private partnership, with the state maintaining a 51% stake.

Project leader Eden Pastora said Nicaragua's canal, to be built along one of six proposed routes, would be larger and deeper than the Panama Canal. That vital waterway is currently undergoing a major $5.25 billion project to expand capacity. The upgrade, set to be completed in 2014, will allow some of the world's largest ships to pass through. The Panama Canal generated a record $1 billion for the government during fiscal year 2010-2011 and a total of $6.6 billion since the United States handed over control more than a decade ago.

Editor's Comment: First of all, Nicaragua is broke. They don't have either the money or the capacity to borrow money to build this $30 billion dollar project. Secondly, they want to keep a 51% stake. So what they are saying to potential investors is - come here, spend $30 billion dollars to build us a new canal in Nicaragua, and for your money you will get 49% of what you spent. This project is more than just a little risky for any potential investor. First of all, you're dealing with the government of Daniel Ortega and a bunch of left wing socialists. Secondly, the canal once finished would be more than twice as long as the Panama Canal, and any ships wanting to use it would have a choice - do we use the Panama Canal or the Nicaraguan canal. Panama would be in a very strong position to compete because by the time the proposed Nicaraguan canal opens (in ten years or more) the newly expanded Panama Canal would be open and operating. If there was a competing canal, Panama could simply drop their toll rates down to a point where every ship would first choose Panama, and then only use Nicaragua if there were no spots left in Panama. In short, the Panama Canal is already bought and paid for and there would be no need or pressure to have to charge enough money to pay for new construction - only to operate and maintain. Anyway, whatever. This plan is most likely nothing more than a Nicaraguan pipe dream. Smart guys with big calculators and a lot of money won't take the risk - because it's a loser on the math.

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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ACP Announces Delay in Implementation of Toll Increase

Canal Daily OperationPANAMA CITY, Panama - The Board of Directors of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced today that it has published a revised tolls proposal that defers the implementation date of new Canal tolls to October 2012 and October 2013. The ACP announced in April its intention to adjust tolls to bring them closer to the value of the route for certain market segments, to redefine some segments and to adjust minimum tolls. After a 30-day public consultation period, the ACP conducted a hearing on May 23. The April proposal has been slightly modified. At the request of the industry, implementation of the new charges has been postponed from July 2012 to October 2012, giving the industry additional lead time before implementation of the new tolls as well as providing an additional three months before the second step of increase in 2013. In addition, the revised proposal eliminates the proposed container/breakbulk segment. Container/breakbulk vessels will continue to be classified as part of the segment known as others.

The revised tolls adjustment will apply only to the following market segments: general cargo, dry bulk, tanker, chemical tanker, LPG, vehicle carrier and ro-ro and the segment known as others. Due to this modification, the ACP today is reopening the issue for public comment and will consider additional input, suggestions and feedback from interested parties over the next 15 days.

After receiving comments and feedback from the maritime and shipping industry during its official consultation period, the ACP responded to industry requests by modifying the proposal and postponing implementation of the new pricing. “The Panama Canal is the only organization in the shipping industry that consults with customers and interested parties prior to implementing any modification to its pricing structure. This open and transparent process has given the ACP an opportunity to listen to the needs of its customers and to adjust its proposal accordingly,” said ACP Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta.

After the ACP’s Board of Directors reviews the comments received during the 15-day period, it will make a final decision and submit its recommendation to the Cabinet Council of the Republic of Panama for its final approval. Prior to this announcement, the ACP held a consultation period (April 18, 2012 – May 21, 2012) and made the proposal available to all interested parties. The ACP received a total of 18 written submissions, in both English and Spanish, from representatives of countries, shipping associations, customers and other interested parties. The consultation period culminated with a public hearing in Panama in which seven representatives from shipping and government expressed their views during an open and transparent process.

Significant elements include the following: New Segments - The revised proposal increases the number of segments from eight to ten by Panama Canal vessel type. It also breaks down the tanker segment into three distinct segments and incorporates the roll-on/roll-off vessels into the vehicle carrier segment. Once approved, the Panama Canal market segmentation scheme will include the following segments: full container, reefer, dry bulk, passenger, vehicle carrier and ro-ro, tanker, chemical tanker, LPG, general cargo and others.

Price Proposal - Effective October 1, 2012 and October 1, 2013, respectively, the ACP proposes to increase the tolls for the following segments: general cargo, dry bulk, tanker, chemical tanker, LPG, vehicle carrier and ro-ro, and the segment known as others. The remaining segments -container, reefer and passenger - will not be adjusted at this time, nor will the price per TEU for containers carried onboard a vessel. Additionally, there will be changes to tolls applicable to small vessels based on vessel length, to incorporate adjustments not previously considered. (Press Release)

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Panama Canal Toll Increases Will Be Implemented in October 2012

Canal Daily Operation
Alberto Alemán Zubieta - Administrator of the Panama Canal Authority
Alberto Alemán Zubieta - Administrator of the Panama Canal Authority
The implementation date for the increases to tolls on the Panama Canal has been postponed because users need more time to adjust their rates. This was reported by the Administrator of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), Alberto Aleman Zubieta, who explained that during a visit by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Ricardo Quijano to China, to Japan and Korea, he met with users of the waterway and collected their ideas and concerns. Once the ACP decides to increase the tolls, the proposal must be submitted to the board of the Canal with its implementation date, which is expected to be October 1, and the commission will take charge of the issue and send it to the Executive Cabinet Council for approval, said the administrator.

Necessary Process - Aleman Zubieta said the toll increase was not included in this year's budget, however that is part of establishing tolls. Meanwhile he said he was concerned about the situation in the world, because the global economy is not picking up as they expected, and that could impact the final tonnage in the last quarter of the fiscal period of the Canal. "We have a strong institution, and we will continue to develop the Canal (...) there is a Board of Directors which knows the policies the Canal should follow," he said. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: They were going to implement these toll increases in July 2012, but now apparently the ACP has decided to delay implementation until October of this year. They have been discussing this for months, however some ignorant people have been trying to say these toll increases have something to do with the recently created budget shortfall, but in fact the two issues are not related.

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Erie's GE Transportation gets Panama Canal order

Canal Daily OperationERIE, Pa. (AP) - GE Transportation in Erie will supply 28 marine engines used to power 14 tug boats owned by the Panama Canal Authority. GE officials aren't disclosing financial terms of the deal announced Wednesday, which marks the third deal to provide engines for Panama Canal tug boats since 2008. The authority bought 26 engines to power 13 boats now in service, and four more engines are currently being built at GE Marine, a division of the northwestern Pennsylvania GE Transportation business. It was not immediately clear when the new engines would be built or when the boats using them would be in service. GE officials say Marinsa International will install the engines and support the Panama Canal fleet. Marinsa is GE's authorized distributor for Panama.
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Nicaragua Making Noise About Digging Their Own Canal Again

Canal Daily OperationThe Panamanian Foreign Minister, Roberto Henriquez, ruled out the idea that the possibility of the construction of a canal project in Nicaragua is a threat to Panama, and he acknowledged that his government has not discussed the issue. "I do not consider it to be a threat to the canal (in Panama). In any case it would serve another purpose, but eventually if they do build a canal (in Nicaragua) of this type, it would not be replacing the Panama Canal," Henriquez told reporters.

The government of Nicaragua presented before their Congress a project to build a new canal a week ago, that would be an alternative to the Panama Canal that would unite the Atlantic and the Pacific through six tracks. The project would cost an estimated $30 billion dollars and there are six countries interested in financing the project, said the government of Daniel Ortega. The statements made by Henriquez are added to those of the Administrator of the Panama Canal, Alberto Aleman, who said "the project of building a canal through Nicaragua does not worry us, because competition is always good."

An estimated 5% of world trade passes through the 80 kilometers of the Panama Canal every year. More than a million ships have passed through its waters since it was inaugurated on August 15, 1914. The government of Panama received the Panama Canal from the United States in 1999 and since then the central government fund has received more than $6.5 billion dollars from Panama Canal profits. Prior to that, during the entire 86 years that the Panama Canal was administered by the United States, the government of Panama had only received a grand total of $1.8 billion dollars. The Panama Canal is currently being expanded for an estimated cost of $5.25 billion dollars, so that vessels carrying as much as 12,000 containers can pass through its waters. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Let's see, can you name the six countries that would be interested in helping Nicaragua finance the construction of a new canal? You can start with Venezuela, but Hugo Chavez will probably be dead before the first shovel full of dirt is turned. Next up would be Iran - hey, maybe they can use their nukes to help dig the ditch? Then of course you can add the other two left wing nuts of Latin America - Ecuador and Bolivia. Any guesses on the other two? China's got the money. Hey, didn't France just go Socialist again? You know what happens when those dudes try to dig a canal... The bottom line is that this issue comes around every couple of years. They keep talking about it in Nicaragua, and they've been talking about it for decades. This isn't a new concept.

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Conflict over Panama Canal charges

Canal Daily OperationBy Carl Collen - Plans laid out by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) to increase toll charges for the Panama Canal have been blasted by the International Chamber of Shipping and Commerce (ICS). The ACP is planning to hike charges by up to 15 per cent, and is now considering comments and written submissions left on the subject during a recent 30-day consultation period, Port Strategy reported. However, ICS has slammed the move, calling it 'rushed, excessive and likely to cause further problems', culminating in the group sending a letter to ACP outlining its concerns. ICS has pointed out that the industry was expecting just one small increase in the toll charges ahead of completion of the Panama Canal expansion project, which is expected to conclude in 2014. (www.fruitnet.com)
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Panama toll charge increase row

Canal Daily OperationA row has broken out between The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) over the proposed plans to increase the toll charges for the Panama Canal. ICS has attacked the plans – which it says are “rushed, excessive and likely to cause further problems”, given the current climate. ACP released proposals to hike Canal toll charges by up to 15% last month and opened a consultation period of 30 days which culminated in a public hearing on 23 May. It is now considering the comments and written submissions received. Following the consultation, ICS sent a strongly worded letter to ACP outlining concerns from shipowners requesting that ACP concentrate instead on the development of a mutually beneficial toll structure to be introduced in late 2014.

ICS argues that the industry was assured there would only be one small adjustment to tolls before completion of the expansion project in 2014. But, under the new proposals, toll increases could come into effect as early as 1 July 2012.

Meanwhile, ACP has responded to Port Strategy in defence of the toll hike proposal. Rodolfo Sabonge, vice president, market research and analysis, Panama Canal Authority, said to PS: “The ACP is fully aware that transportation, and logistics in general, has become a major differentiator in terms of competitiveness for different commodities and products, therefore, when it implements a tolls change, the Canal does it after a thorough analysis of all the factors that are affecting trade, including the fees charged by the Canal.” He added: “On several occasions, the arguments presented by the participants in the process have been taken into consideration by the Board when making its final decision.”

During the last toll change, the ACP Board of Directors changed the date of implementation of reefers’ tolls from January to April – affected parties had pointed out that the change in tolls would be made in the middle of the fruit season. This process is quite unique as not many service providers in the transportation industry formally allow their customers to express their views regarding price changes. (www.portstrategy.com)

Editor's Comment: The Panama Canal is now being run by the government of Panama, and right now the government of Panama wants more money to spend. It sees the Panama Canal as an additional source of revenue - which of course it is. Shippers have a choice. They can either pay the increased tolls or go around, which is more expensive. So in the end they will have to hike their rates and just as it always has been done, transportation costs will be eventually passed down to consumers. Shippers can bitch and complain, but they can't stop the Panama Canal Authority from raising rates. Hey, somebody's got to pay for that new subway system. And that new hospital. And that new prison. And that new bridge. And that new road. And that new school. And all of the other stuff the Martinelli administration is building fo' da' people.

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Panama Canal Authority Held Public Consultations On Proposed Toll Increases This Morning

Canal Daily OperationThe Panama Canal Authority today held a public hearing as part of the consultation process to amend (increase) the tolls of the waterway, in order to continue approaching the same value that reflects the real benefits offered by the canal route from Panama to its users. "This is part of an open and transparent process established by the Panama Canal, with the participation of representatives of customers and industry," said ACP Administrator Alberto Aleman Zubieta. As part of the procedure to change the tolls, the ACP opened last month a consultation process during which interested parties could request in writing their participation in this public hearing held in the Ascanio Arosemena Auditorium of the ACP. "Now the Panama Canal will analyze the comments received during the hearing and the considerations that were sent in writing," said Aleman Zubieta.

The ACP Board of Directors last month approved a proposal amending certain market segments of the Panama Canal and established from 1 July, an increase to the segments of general cargo, containers / breakbulk, bulk dry tankers, chemical tankers, car carriers, ro-ro, and others. The remaining segments will not have adjustments at this time. For smaller vessels, they proposed four price levels on the basis of the length of the boat.

New segments - The proposal increases from eight to eleven segments by type of vessels of the Panama Canal. For the existing (container, refrigerated cargo, dry bulk carriers, passenger, car carriers, tankers, general cargo and other), it eliminates the tanker segment, and adds the oil tankers, chemical tankers and container ships / loose cargo. Also, the vehicle carriers are incorporated hereinafter as ships types roll on / roll off (roro) being called car carriers / roro.

As a next step, the ACP Board of Directors will review the feedback from customers and users before making a decision on the proposed amendment of tolls which will then be sent to the Cabinet Council for final approval. (Critica)

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200 Cruise Ships Transited The Panama Canal During 2011 - 2012 Season

Canal Daily Operation
A Cruise Ship In The Panama Canal
A Cruise Ship In The Panama Canal
A total of 200 cruise ships with more than 220,000 passengers crossed the Panama Canal in the recently concluded 2011-2012 season, officials said. The cruise season ended last May 17 with the passage of the Celebrity Millennium, a ship of Celebrity Cruises, a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, detailed the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) in a statement. The Celebrity Millennium, which went through the interoceanic waterway from Miami, on the U.S. East Coast, made a 15-day journey to San Diego (California) in the U.S. West Coast.

According to Jaime Castillo, Office of Research and Market Analysis of the Panama Canal, between October 1, 2011, when the season started, until 17 May, there were 200 transits with a total of 222,203 cruise passengers board. According to Castillo, the routes of these vessels are usually of short duration, covering the Caribbean islands and the east and west coasts of Central America.

This season saw the first transit of the Panama waterway Norwegian Jewel cruise ship operated by Norwegian Cruise Line, on 5 May. This ship, with capacity for 2,376 passengers, sailed from New York in late April bound for Los Angeles, California (USA). (Panama America)

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Panama Canal Authority Announces Toll Increases

Canal Daily OperationThe board of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has approved a toll increase of 15% in two years, on seven types of large ships and from 60% to 113% for small vessels passing through the Panama Canal as of 1 July 2012, sources said today of the entity. The proposed change approved last Wednesday, also increases tolls on eight to eleven distinct types of ships passing through the waterway, which "seeks to approximate the amount of toll to the value offered by the interoceanic route to their users," detailed the ACP in a statement. The segments will be defined as: container, general cargo, container / bulk cargo, refrigerated cargo, bulk dry, tankers, gas carriers, car carriers, ro-ro and passenger and others. Those with recorded increases of 15% (7.5% in 2012 and the same percentage in 2013) are general cargo, containers / breakbulk, bulk dry, tankers, chemical tankers and others (those not covered by any of categories). Car carriers and ro-ro (roll-on/roll off, equipped with ramps) will be increase by only 1.6 to 1.7% in the toll from July 1 next, said the statement of the proposal. The rate for each segment is calculated on a table that gives a price for the first 10,000 tons, one for the next 10,000 and a third rate for the rest.

For smaller vessels, which have suffered an increase since 1998, proposed increases in four price levels on the basis of the length (L) of the vessel, ranging between 60% and 113%, so the new tolls would be $500 to $800 dollars for smaller boats (15.24 meters) and $1,500 to $3,200 to the largest (30.48 meters).

Furthermore, the rate per ton of displacement, now $3.02, also will increase 15.5% to $3.25 as of 1 July, and to $3.49 in the the same month next year.

About the increases, the ACP administrator Alberto Aleman, said the proposal brings the tolls closer to the value and quality advantages offered by the route through the Panama Canal, while maintaining the competitiveness of the route. "The ACP reaffirms its interest in maintaining a dialogue with the industry to enable us to structure a system of tolls according to the needs of our users which results in benefits for themselves and for Panama," Aleman said.

Until now, the ships were classified as: container, refrigerated cargo, dry bulk carriers, passenger, car carriers, tankers, general cargo and others. Now they removed the tanker segment, and added the tankers, chemical tankers, gas carriers and container ships / loose cargo. Furthermore, the vehicle carriers will be incorporated with the ro-ro vessels, car carriers being called in / ro ro.

According to the statement, the ACP opened from now until next May 21 a consultation process in which interested parties may apply for participation at the public hearing to be held on May 23 at the ACP, to receive feedback from users about the announcement of the increase, which then must be approved by the Cabinet of the Government of Panama to take effect. (Panama America)

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Jorge Quijano Designated As New Administrator of the Panama Canal

Canal Daily OperationThe engineer Jorge Quijano was selected by the Board of Directors of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) as the new administrator of the entity. The announcement was made by the Minister of Canal Affairs Romulo Roux. Roux said they have been analyzing this designation since August 2011, when they began to study the needs of the company, the country, and users of the Panama Canal, so the ACP board of directors agreed to the appointment of the engineer, who has been working for the entity for more than 30 years. "The board of directors made ​​this selection process by developing a specific timeframe within which thy decided the challenges of the Canal and its expansion, to develop the profile of the new administrator on this basis," said Roux.

Meanwhile the engineer Jorge Quijano said he was grateful for the opportunity he has been given, and for the trust that has been placed in him, and he said he would continue the work that has been started, and he would give the required attention to the work of expanding the Panama Canal. "My commitment is to meet this challenge, and also I believe that the future of the Canal has opportunities, and with the support of this work force I can do it," said Quijano

Quijano has a Masters in Industrial Engineering and Management at Lamar University, in Texas in the United States. He began working for the Panama Canal in 1975 as an engineer in the Division of Locks. In 1999 he became the Director of Marine Operations, a position he held for more than seven years. In 2007 he was appointed Executive Vice President of Engineering and Program Management, where he managed the development of the expansion program of the waterway. (Panama America)

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How Many Tons of Coal Passed Through The Panama Canal in 2011?

Canal Daily OperationBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received today via email: "Does the PC Authority keep records of cargoes passing the Canal? If so, could I find out how many tons of coal passed each direction in FY 2011? Thank you."

Editor's Comment: Coal is shipped around the world in "bulk" carriers. These ships have large holds designed to allow for the cargo to be just dumped in, and doors that open so cranes can unload from above. I was able to find this link on the Panama Canal website - Principal Commodities Shipped through the Panama Canal Fiscal Years 2009, 2010, 2011 (Thousands of Long Tons*). It seems that in FY 2011 a total of 14,209 (thousands of long tons) of coal and related products passed through the Panama Canal. Of that, 10,463 went Southbound (Atlantic to Pacific) and another 3,746 went Northbound (Pacific to Atlantic). One "long ton" is equal to 1,016.04691 kilograms. And the cargo is being expressed in "thousands of long tons" so add three zeros = so that's more than 14.2 million long tons. Hope this answers your question. Surf through the data on the Panama Canal website for more...

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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"Expectations" Over Selection Of New Panama Canal Administrator

Canal Daily OperationAlthough it is the exclusive authority of the board of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) to choose the new ACP administrator, political sectors and civil society do not rule out the influence held by president Ricardo Martinelli in that election. The ACP Board of Directors will appoint a new manager before 4 September 2012 when the term in office of the current ACP administrator Alberto Alemán Zubieta expires. Martinelli has named three of the eleven directors (José Sosa, Nicolás Corcione and Marco Ameglio), while the National Assembly selected Rafael Bárcenas, and the Minister for Canal Affairs, who is by law is also the President of the Board of Directors (Rómulo Roux), also has the right to vote. The selection of a new new administrator requires a majority of eight votes. Thus, the final counterweight is with the remaining directors, named during the administrations of Mireya Moscoso (Norberto Delgado, Eduardo Quirós and Alfredo Ramírez) and Martin Torrijos (Adolfo Ahumada, Guillermo Chapman and Ricardo De La Espriella). Francisco Sanchez Cardenas, the president of the opposition PRD political party, and Guillermo Marquez Amado, former president of the Electoral Tribunal, both warn of the risk of Executive interference in the appointment. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: The Administrator of the Panama Canal is a position which comes with tremendous responsibility. The Panama Canal Authority sees gross income of more than $3 billion dollars per year, and about two thirds of that is spend on manpower, maintenance, and the logistics required to keep the canal operating. Add on top of that the ongoing project to expand the Panama Canal (with a budget of $5.25 billion dollars). So yeah, of course president Martinelli is going to get involved in the selection of Alberto Alemán Zubieta's successor. And of course, his political opponents will squeak about it. This might turn into a fight because one of Martinelli's appointments - Marco Ameglio - is a Panameñista. And there are still three other Panameñistas who were appointed by Mireya Moscoso. But consider this - Alberto Alemán Zubieta has basically been running the Panama Canal since 1996 - for the past 15 years. He's been doing a good job. It might be wise to just change his name to "Hoover" and leave him right where he is. But I have no idea what the relationship is like between Martinelli and Alberto Alemán Zubieta. If they've knocked heads behind closed doors, he's gone.

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Old Broken Pipe Causes Fuel Spill in Panama Canal

Canal Daily Operation #Panama - Following the break of an old pipe, an undetermined amount of bunker fuel spilled near the Vasco Núñez de Balboa naval base (formerly Rodman). The damaged pipe was no longer being used. According to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), the pipe broke at about 9:00 pm yesterday, Wednesday, but did not affect ship transit of the Panama Canal. It is still unknown the exact amount of spilled bunker. The Spill Control staff of the ACP is in the area picking up the spilled bunker, which, according to the ACP, did not affect a "large perimeter" of the shores of the Panama Canal on the west side near the naval base. At 9:30 am on Thursday, the Spill Control staff had already finished collecting the fuel that had spilled into the sea. In this area there are pipes and fuel storage tanks. (Prensa)
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Panama Canal Sets Tonnage Record For FY2011

Canal Daily OperationThe Panama Canal ended fiscal year 2011 on 30 September, recording a total transit of 322.1 million tons of cargo or a 7.1% growth compared to 2010. "This is an unprecedented achievement in the 97 years of Canal operations," said the administrator of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), Alberto Aleman Zubieta. This reflects the ability of Panama to operate and manage this important maritime trade route, he added. The results for FY2011 surpassed the previous record of 312.9 million tons, set in 2007, by 2.9%. For fiscal year 2012, which just started October 1, the ACP projects in its budget over 332.5 million tons, or a growth of 3.7%, or 10.4 million tons more than this year. (Prensa)
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Panama Canal Has Paid $7 Billion Dollars to State Treasury Over 13 Years

Canal Daily OperationFrom 2000 to 2012 the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has provided to the State $7.323 billion dollars in fees paid, excesses, and public services, according to projections by the entity. This amount includes $950 million in contributions to the State budget for the fiscal year running from 1 Oct 2011 through 30 Sept 2012. In 13 years of Panamanian administration, the Canal will have delivered $3.312 billion in "rights per ton," $3.828 billion in surpluses, and $182.4 million for public services (trash collection payments and others). ACP's budget for 2012 amounts $2.398 billion dollars, more than $200 million more when compared to the previous year, when it as $2.106 billion.

HISTORICAL RECORD - According to the ACP administrator Alberto Alemán Zubieta, all projections indicate that in this fiscal year (2010-2011) the Panama Canal "broke a historic record" in both revenue and contributions to the National Treasury. "We estimated contributions of $840 million dollars, which we will overcome and we will be closer to $1 billion dollars," he said. Although the Panama Canal Expansion Program is running, this has not affected the passage of ships using the canal, said Alberto Alemán Zubieta, who highlighted the work carried out by the ACP to achieve these historical records. (La Prensa)

Editor's Comment: How to look at these numbers: The Panama Canal's operating budget for 2012 will be $2.398 billion dollars - money paid to the ACP in the form of tolls collected from passing ships. This is the best kind of money there is for a national economy, fresh, new, and coming from somewhere else. Practically all of that money gets spent right here in Panama and it quickly cycles back through the Panamanian national economy. It includes every employee's paycheck, for example, and they trot right down to the Rey supermarket and spend it on corn flakes or what have you, just like the rest of us. It also includes supplies and expendables, stuff like fuel and tires and what have you. They buy all of those things from local suppliers. So, most of the ACP's annual budget get's spent locally. This year the Panama Canal will be giving about $1 billion dollars to the state treasury. Again, this is a wonderful thing for the Panamanian economy, and that's enough money to pay the annual operating budgets of several of the government's Ministries, all by itself. And once the expansion program is complete the annual operating budget will be more than $3 billion per year and the canal will be generating more than $2 billion per year for the treasury. Most importantly, the economy of Panama is relatively tiny so this numbers have a big impact. And, the population of Panama is also relatively small, so improvements to the overall economy are felt. And before you tell me that "this money does not trickle down" spend some time to understand the GDP per capita (PPP) and see how it's been steadily improving since Panama took over management of the Panama Canal. The bottom line is the Panama Canal is one of the most significant economic engines behind the impressive growth of the Panamanian economy in the past decade.

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Panama Canal chief unfazed by Colombia rail competition

Canal Daily OperationPANAMA CITY (AFP) - The administrator of the Panama Canal dismissed the notion the key waterway could be under threat from a Chinese-backed project to build a new rail link across northern Colombia. ''I don't see that as a competition issue,'' Alberto Aleman Zubieta, the head of the Panama Canal Authority, told AFP. ''We are a very important freight shipment hub, and shipping by sea is the most efficient (method).'' The Financial Times reported on Sunday that China was looking to construct a new 220-kilometre (136-mile) railway from the Pacific to a new city near Cartagena in northern Colombia. Chinese goods would be assembled for re-export throughout the Americas and raw materials would make the return journey to China, the report said. ''It's a real proposal... and it is quite advanced,'' Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was quoted as saying in Monday's Financial Times. ''The studies (the Chinese) have made on the costs of transporting per tonne, the cost of investment, they all work out.'' China has ramped up investment and lending to the developing world, including Latin America, a strategy widely viewed as aimed partly at securing access to the raw materials needed to fuel its fast-growing economy.

Trade between China and Colombia in the first eight months of 2010 reached $4.8 billion, an increase of more than 73 percent over the same period in 2009, according to the Chinese commerce ministry. The Panama Canal -- long considered an engineering marvel -- was built between 1904 and 1914 by the United States after an initial French attempt failed. It was returned to Panama's control 11 years ago. Each year, around five percent of all international trade passes through the 80-kilometer (50-mile) man-made artery linking the Atlantic to the Pacific, with around 40 ships passing through the canal each day. Last year, work began on a 5.2-billion-dollar project to enlarge the canal by constructing a third set of locks to ensure that today's super-size container ships, cruise liners and oil tankers -- many of which are too wide for the canal -- will be able to navigate the waterway in the future.

Editor's Comment: When the project to expand the Panama Canal is completed in 2014, a single ship carrying 15,000 cargo containers will be able to make the transit from the Pacific to the Atlantic in about twelve hours at a very cost efficient price. It would be physically impossible to match that feat with any kind of overland rail network at any price, much less one that could compete with the Panama Canal. The business model the Chinese are proposing might work for them - meaning, they could build it and make a profit. However the ACP administrator is absolutely correct. This project does not compete with, or in any way threaten, the fundamental business model of the Panama Canal. Every now and again someone pops up with some kind of an alternative - like going through the Northern route for instance. We haven't heard much about that one, in the middle of one of the coldest winters in a long time, have we. Hugo Chavez likes to say they're going to build a new canal through Nicaragua. Of course the really sane people who own the billions of dollars it would take to build such a thing don't jump on board, precisely because it makes for a great headline, but really bad math when you do the numbers. Nope, the Panama Canal will continue to have a monopoly for a long time, and the various multi-modal overland routes won't even take a nick at the bottom line. Case in point - just look how the entire internal overland shipping model is going to be abandoned in the United States, in large part because with an expanded Panama Canal, now the cargo container ships can go straight to Baltimore, Houston, or Tampa for example - instead of having to drop the cargo from Asia into Los Angeles and then ship it overland on trains or trucks. Why? Overland is more expensive and less efficient, that's why.

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Panama Canal expects increase in shipping traffic in 2011

Canal Daily OperationThe Panama Canal Authority (ACP) says it expects vessel traffic to rise at the Canal in 2011, according to media reports. ACP estimates that 305 million tonnes of cargo will transit the Canal during the 2011 fiscal year, an estimated four million tonne increase from last year. The Panama Canal expansion project will be completed in 2014 and is expected to contribute significant economic growth to the country. Currently, the canal is able to carry vessels of up to 5,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). According to reports, once new locks are fitted, the canal will be able to carry vessles with a capacity of 12,600 TEUs. Panama Canal's port system moved approximately 4.4 million TEUs per year on average and is expected to handle eight million containers annually by the year 2015. (portworld.com)
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Panama Canal Authority Delivers $814 Million To Panama Government

Canal Daily OperationThe Panama Canal Authority (ACP) transferred to the government of Panama $814.67 million dollars, or about $60 million dollars more than what was budgeted for 2010, according to an official source. The Minister for Canal Affairs and Chairman of the Board of the ACP, Rómulo Roux, said in a press release that the financial statements of the entity that manages the inter-oceanic route were approved for fiscal year 2010 (October 2009 to September 2010.) The Board of Directors of the Panama Canal Authority approved the transfer to the National Treasury a surplus of $470.60 million dollars, $342.21 million dollars for net ton rights, and $1.86 million for payments for services rendered by the State. This annual payment is governed by the Constitution of Panama and the Organic Law of the Panama Canal Authority. The Panama Canal Authority contributed more than $60.7 to the National Treasury over what was budgeted ($753,977,000) for fiscal year 2010.

The Panama Canal, built and administered by the United States between 1903 and 1999, came under full sovereignty of Panama from December 31, 1999, in accordance with the Torrijos-Carter treaty also ended the U.S. military presence in the Central American country on that date. From 2007 to 2014 the project to expand the waterway is being developed, at an estimated cost of $5.25 billion dollars, which will double the annual capacity from 300 million to 600 million tons per year with the construction of a third larger set of locks. (Telemetro)

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Panama Canal Authority Sees Modest Traffic Rise In 2011

Canal Daily OperationPANAMA CITY (Dow Jones)--The Panama Canal will likely to see traffic rise moderately for a second straight year in 2011 as international trade continues to recover along with the world economy. The Panama Canal Authority, or ACP, expects the net tonnage of ships passing between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans to reach 305 million tons in fiscal 2011, up from 300.1 million tons the previous year, ACP Administrator Alberto Aleman said in an interview. Panama's fiscal year started Oct. 1. "I do believe that still this is going to be a slow recovery in world economics," Aleman said.
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Bus Breaks Down on Gatun Locks Bridge

Canal Daily Operation A bus from the Colón - Costa Abajo route broke down on the vehicular bridge of the Gatun Locks at the Atlantic entrance of the Panama Canal. Apparently, the bus broke down and got stuck on the bridge. In order to be able to open the way, another bus had to push the broken down bus off of the vehicular bridge, the only land connection to the Costa Abajo of Colon. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment:If you've ever driven over to Ft. Sherman on the Atlantic side of Panama then you've been across this vehicular bridge at the Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal. Supposedly there are plans to build a new vehicular bridge over that area of the Canal, as well as to expand a highway to connect Colon to Changuinola in Bocas del Toro. Pushing a road up that coast would dramatically increase property values in the region.

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Director of Customs Threatens to Destroy Cargo Passing Through the Panama Canal

Canal Daily OperationPanama's Director General of the National Customs Authority, Gloria Moreno de Lopez, is leading a raid on the Panama Canal area to check the movement of two ships - one going from Iran to Colombia and another from Israel to the United States - that are carrying the toxic diethylene glycol without the property security measures. The official was blunt and said if they do not comply with the security measures then they will not pass through Panama, the substance will be destroyed, and the embassies of the United States and Colombia will be warned. "Considering that diethylene glycol is a volatile substance that has to be transferred under certain conditions, in a refrigerated container, which it is not, we come to see something that endangers the Panama Canal, and if this is so we are not going to let it pass," she said. (La Estrella)

Editor's Comment: Political grandstanding. Back in 2006 hundreds (if not thousands) of Panamanians were killed due to diethylene glycol (DEG) poisoning - because they drank it. DEG is sweet to the taste and it's a whole lot cheaper to produce. Unscrupulous bastards in China switched the materials and sold the DEG as "glycerin" - a food product used to make things sweet. This was a national tragedy, and now the Director General of the National Customs Authority, Gloria Moreno de Lopez, is exploiting the fact that a couple of boats carrying DEG through the Panama Canal to attempt to score political points for the government of Ricardo Martinelli. It's probably going to backfire, and here's why.

If It's Fire, Safety or Chemistry, Ask Dad: My father is a friggin' genius when it comes to things related to fire, safety, chemistry, or any combination therein. I mean, he's a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. When I ran into this article I called him up and we had a conversation about the "volatility" of DEG. He said it is "amazingly non-volatile" and then went on to quote a whole string of numbers, math, and temperatures. If you're into the chemistry check out this document but for us normal people, here's the bottom line. You can have a bottle of DEG in a room, and there's no danger whatsoever. You can have an open container of DEG in a room, and it's not giving off any fumes. In order to get the stuff hot enough to be dangerous, the heat will kill you before the fumes do. In other words, you have to "ingest" the material in order for it to be dangerous - drink, inhale, or absorb through the skin. And it does NOT have to be transported in a refrigerated container. DEG passes through the Panama Canal practically every day. As the Director of Customs, Moreno probably doesn't have any authority over the shipments because they are just passing through the Panama Canal and are not being imported into Panama. She's not responsible for the handling of Hazardous Materials (Hazmat) on the Panama Canal. And what's more, the next ship will probably contain some other industrial materials that are much more "volatile" than DEG - but that's no where as politically sensitive to Panamanians. The bottom line is that if Moreno overreacts and plays some kind of a trump card for political expediency, then the international community who uses the Panama Canal on a daily basis are going to kick her in the proverbial nuts. Mark my words...

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Panama Canal cheers millionth ship to use waterway

Canal Daily OperationPANAMA CITY - A Chinese bulk carrier has become the millionth vessel to cross the Panama Canal since it was built almost 96 years ago. Panama Canal authorities are marking the milestone by presenting the Hong Kong-flagged Fortune Plum's captain a plaque and a photo of the vessel as it crossed the waterway on Sept. 4. Panama Canal vice president of operations Manuel Benitez presented the award to ship captain Ji Jian on Wednesday as the ship headed back to Asia. The canal was built by the United States in 1914 and handed over to Panama in 1999. Last year, authorities began the waterway's biggest expansion project to add two wider sets of locks that can accommodate wider vessels. About 4 percent of the world's maritime trade passes through the canal's locks. (Bloomberg Business Week)

Editor's Comment: When the ship passed through the Canal on 4 September 2010, the officials at the Panama Canal Authority didn't even know or realize at that point that the Fortune Plum was the one millionth ship to pass through the Panama Canal - their bean counters figured it out later. By the time they woke up the ship was already halfway to Asia. Anyway, now there's a plaque hanging on the bridge. Now ask yourself this - if one million ships have gone through the Panama Canal, why is there still so much poverty in Panama? Answer - because the government of the United States of America managed the Panama Canal for them, not for the benefit of Panama or Panamanians, for almost a century. Contrary to years of Panama Canal Authority rhetoric and press releases claiming otherwise. That situation has since changed, and the economy of Panama has been growing like crazy ever since, and it's only going to get better. You do the math. The average vessel passing through the Panama Canal pays about $200,000 in tolls. Multiply that times one million, and the answer is $200 BILLION DOLLARS (in today's money). So, why is there still poverty in tiny Panama? Great question... History students, don't forget to do the math. And that's why many Panamanians (deep down) think Americans are greedy, selfish pricks.

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One millionth ship crosses Panama Canal

Canal Daily OperationPANAMA CITY—A Chinese freighter has become the millionth vessel to cross the Panama Canal three years ahead of the waterway's 100th anniversary, the canal authority said Monday. "The ship 'Fortune Plum,' whose name foreshadowed its good luck, became the one millionth vessel to cross the inter-oceanic canal since it was opened," the Panama Canal Authority said in a statement. The vessel actually crossed the canal September 4 with a load of steel products from the Pacific to the Atlantic but the authority announced the news only Monday. Work began a year ago to enlarge the canal by constructing a third set of locks to ensure that today's supersize container ships, cruise liners, and oil tankers—many of which are too wide for the canal—will be able to navigate the waterway in the future. The cost of the work has been put at some $5.2 billion, and should be complete by August 2014, a century after the canal's inauguration. Since then a million ships have crossed the 80-kilometer (50-mile) canal, through which five percent of the world's trade crosses every year. The third set of locks, parallel to the existing two, would accommodate massive vessels 366 meters (1,200 feet) in length, 49 meters (160 feet) wide, and with a 15-meter (50-foot) draft.
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