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Tuesday, November 20 2018 @ 01:37 PM UTC

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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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Slight Drop in Third Quarter FY 2010 Panama Canal Traffic

Canal Daily Operation During the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2010 (Apr - Jun), the total number of transits and tonnage passing through the Panama Canal registered a marginal decline, however some key segments reported growth compared with the same period last year. The total number of Canal transit fell slightly by 2.8%, down to 3,476 compared to 3,576 last year. The number of transits of the "super" category of ships, which require more time and resources to cross the Canal, dropped 3.1%, down to 1,758 from 1,.815. With regard to key segments, general cargo ships and vehicle carriers showed increases, while dry bulk transits, container ships, refrigerated cargo, tankers and cruise ships showed decreases.

"In this quarter we saw minor fluctuations in transits and tonnage in general, an indicator that we are experiencing some signs of stability," said Executive Vice President of Operations for the ACP, Manuel Benítez. "We also see growth in some key segments, specifically, in the general cargo and vehicle carriers. We anticipate this trend will continue in the fourth quarter of this fiscal year, therefore we continue to monitor markets and their impact on the canal, The use of the Canal's reservation system decreased by 18.8%," said Benitez. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Panama is going to become an economic powerhouse of Latin America (on a per capital basis) thanks to the money earned by the Panama Canal. Right now the Canal brings in about $3 billion dollars in total revenues every year. Of that, more than $2 billion is spent on operations and maintenance, and about $800 million dollars goes straight to the coffers of the National Government. However, every dime - all $3 billion plus - goes into the Panamanian economy in one way or the other. All of those Panama Canal employees get paid, and then they immediately turn around and spend those paychecks in the greater economy. And the really great part about this money is that it's like an endless river of the best kind of "new money" similar to Foreign Direct Investment - the ships pay the tolls to pass through the Panama Canal and most of that money stays right here in the local Panamanian economy. Once the expansion of the Panama Canal is completed in 2014, total annual revenues are expected to jump to more than $5 billion dollars per year. This will have a tremendous economic impact on this relatively small country of just 3.2 million inhabitants. Keep an eye on one economic indicator - GDP per capital (PPP). By this measure eventually Panamanian citizens will be the richest in all of Latin America. It's going to happen in our lifetimes, without a doubt.

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Panama Canal 2011 Annual Budget - $2.106 Billion Dollars

Canal Daily OperationThe annual operating budget for the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) for fiscal year 2011 will increase to $2.106 billion dollars, and the budget anticipates the ACP will contribute $839 million dollars to the National Treasury next year. This number represents an increase in the contribution of $85 million dollars compared to the current fiscal year which ends on 30 September 2010. For fiscal year 2011 (October 1, 2010 to September 30, 2011), the ACP has budgeted income from tolls of $1.610 billion dollars; income from services related to canal transits of $333 million dollars; and other income derived primarily from the production of drinking water and electricity of $140 million dollars; as well as an additional $22.4 million dollars in interest earnings.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the ACP and Minister for Canal Affairs Romulo Roux, presented the budget before the Cabinet Council, accompanied by Panama Canal Administrator Alberto Aleman Zubieta and the Executive Vice President of Administration and Finance, Francisco Miguez. The 2011 ACP draft budget includes new investments of $136.3 million dollars for the Panama Canal expansion project, destined to continue with the work of the contract for design and construction of locks, dredging and excavation of the new channel. Also included is $234.9 million dollars for investments in modernization and improvement of the current Panama Canal, for the acquisition, mainly, of tugs and a mechanical type backhoe dredger, among others.

Operating expenses, applied to Canal maintenance and operations, will be $650.8 million dollars, which includes mainly staff costs, materials and supplies, fuel for operation and for power generation, and service contracts. Due to the effects of the economic crisis, which has dealt a hard blow to shipping, the ACP budget has been held to a slight growth in recent years. In 2008, the approved budget was $2.7 billion dollars, and in 2009 the budget was $2.105 billion, and in 2010 the annual budget was $2.17 billion dollars. (La Prensa)

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An Explosion In The Engine Room Caused Atlantic Hero Panama Canal Accident

Canal Daily OperationBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Yesterday afternoon at approximately 5:50 pm the Bahamas flagged bulk carrier "Atlantic Hero", fully loaded with coal, was finishing a Southbound transit of the Panama Canal. A pilot of the Panama Canal was in control of the vessel as she cleared the Miraflores Locks and headed for the open waters of the Pacific Ocean. Ships traveling Southbound have to make a slight turn to port, just as they pass the port facilities in Balboa, and just before they pass under the Bridge of the Americas in an area the pilots call Dock Six. As the pilot began to turn the vessel to make the gentle turn to port, there was an explosion in the engine room. Suddenly the ship lost all power and the ship's engines went off line. At this point the vessel would have been traveling through the water at approximately six to eight knots. These large vessels depend on the prop wash going over the rudder to improve their maneuverability, and once the engines shut down the pilot only had the water that was going past the rudder as a result of the ship's forward movement to maneuver. Eventually the ship plowed into the pilings under the Bridge of the Americas and came to a stop.

About The Explosion: Ships operate around the clock, 24/7 and "things break." On every ship there are literally tons of equipment, all kinds of generators, pumps, engines, you name it. I don't know exactly what exploded or why, but it was catastrophic enough to take the main engines off line. In addition, many times ships such as these have safety features built in, so that if there is some kind of a fire or explosion in an ancillary piece of equipment, the engines are automatically dropped off line in order to prevent any further damage. If this explosion had occurred just an hour later when the ship was in open water, then the crew would have simply repaired the damage, bring everything back on line, and they go about their merry way. However, in tight and confined spaces, with the ship maneuvering and even making a turn at the time, there was nothing they could do to avoid the collision with the pilings under the Bridge of the Americas. In the annotated image below you can appreciate the slight turn to the left that ships have to maneuver as they pass through this area, and you can see that if you lose engine power at exactly that point, the ship would continue to plow ahead straight, right into the pilings for the Bridge of the Americas. That's exactly what happened.

The Ship Was Just Freed: I was just informed that the Panama Canal Authority was able to free the ship, get it floating again, and now it will be taken out to the Pacific Anchorage, just last the entrance to the Panama Canal. Later today or tomorrow the ACP will hold an official and formal investigation to determine the causes of the incident. Thus far everything indicates this was nothing more than a routine failure of a piece of equipment that just happened to occur at a very bad time. Simply unfortunate, nothing more.

Copyright 2010 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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Atlantic Hero Remains Stuck Under the Bridge of the Americas in the Panama Canal

Canal Daily Operation The Bahamas-flagged bulk carrier Atlantic Hero, fully loaded with coal, remains stuck and ran aground near the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal, after it collided with the structure protecting the pillar holding up the Bridge of the Americas. Teams from the Panama Canal Authority are on the scene and doing what needs to be done in order to free the vessel and to allow it to continue on its way. The accident with this ship occurred yesterday afternoon just before 6:00 pm, after it had finished it's Southbound passage through the Panama Canal. Despite this situation, the transit of ships through the waterway was not affected, according to the ACP. (La Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Bulk carriers tend to be fully loaded when transiting the canal Southbound, and empty when transiting Northbound. This ship was fully loaded and transiting Southbound. Apparently after the ship cleared the Miraflores Locks and was heading out towards the Pacific, she lost all engine power and began to drift, out of control. Initial reports of this incident said the ship "hit one of the pillars" holding up the Bridge of the Americas, but in reality there are now huge deposits of rocks protecting those pillars. The ship did run aground against one of those protection structures, but there was no damage done to the bridge. Low tide yesterday afternoon in the Balboa area occurred at 12:54 pm, and by the time of the accident the tide was rising above 14'. Even so, as soon as the ship drifted out of the dredged channel for the Panama Canal, she would have run aground relatively quickly. In the photo below she's empty, but you can see how low she would be riding when fully loaded.

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Ship Passing Through Panama Canal Runs Into The Bridge of the Americas

Canal Daily Operation This afternoon a ship that was transiting the Panama Canal ran into one of the bases of the Bridge of the Americas, witnesses said through TVN Noticias. Staff of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) went to the scene, but no official information has been provided about the accident. The ship named the Atlantic Hero is stranded under the bridge. There are no confirmed reports of serious damage. (La Prensa)

A ship named the Atlantic Hero ran aground this afternoon against one of the pillars that sustains the Bridge of the Americas, activating an alert in the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) who went to the scene. Reports indicate there was a problem in the ship's engine when it left the Miraflores locks of the Panama Canal, causing it to lose control. The ship remains stuck under the Bridge of the Americas, while a crane from the ACP is being moved to the scene. So far there have been no reports of injuries, although there are several ambulances standing by in the area. It was reported that for the moment ships are not being allowed to navigate through this area, however vehicles are being allowed to pass over the Bridge of the Americas. (TVN Noticias)



Editor's Comment: According to one of my sources in the ACP, it would be "impossible" for a ship to actually crash into one of the supporting pillars that holds up the Bridge of the Americas. After an accident occurred in the United States, the ACP piled huge boulders around the support pillars to protect them. So if the ship ran into them, even at full speed, the ship would be screwed but the bridge would be protected. Apparently this guy just lost power and drifted until he ran aground. Additional details forthcoming.

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Tall Ships in the Miraflores Locks

Canal Daily OperationBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Heads up - you can see one of the tall ships transiting the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal right now on their live video stream: http://www.pancanal.com/eng/photo/camera-java.html?cam=MirafloresHi.

Copyright 2009 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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ROK ship spills fuel after collision in Panama Canal

Canal Daily Operation(Xinhua) PANAMA CITY - The South Korean ship Hanjing Monaco spilt fuel after colliding with a floodgate in the Panama Canal, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) said Tuesday. The ACP said the fuel spill which occurred on Monday night had been controlled after professional technicians and staff of the Union of Control and Response to Pollution cleaned the fuel spill zone. The accident occurred when the ship collided with the Pedro Miguel floodgate when passing through it, resulting in the damage of the ship's fuel tank. It is estimated that 35 barrels (5,561 liters) of fuel were collected. The ACP also towed the ship to a safe zone where it is going to be repaired. The Panamanian authorities said they are carrying out an investigation into the cause of the accident.
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Panama Canal to leave tolls unchanged in 2010

Canal Daily OperationPANAMA CITY, April 27 (Reuters) - The Panama Canal, which handles about 4 percent of global trade, will leave tolls unchanged this year, the government-run company that administers the canal said on Tuesday. The shipping link between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans is undergoing a $5.25 billion expansion but the Panama Canal Authority said the global economy was still too weak for it to raise prices. "In view of the current world economic situation, the (Panama Canal Authority) has decided not to proceed with a tolls adjustment in 2010," it said in a statement. The company said it would modify prices in 2011. The canal is an important source of government revenue. (Reporting by Sean Mattson; editing by Carol Bishopric)
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Panama Canal's 1Q Income Up 3.1% On Yr; Fewer Ships Crossing

Canal Daily Operation The Panama Canal's total revenue for the first three months of this year rose 3.1% from the same period in 2009, though the number of ships crossing fell. The canal's total revenue rose to $360 million during the January through March period, the canal's authority, a government agency, said in a statement over the weekend. "The income was due to a better ships' use of space as they shipped more load with less boats," the statement said. The number of ships crossing the canal fell 4% in the first quarter compared with the same period in 2009. Alberto Aleman, the Chief Executive of the Panama canal's authority, said in a recent interview he expects the revenues of the canal to pick up slowly this year as the world shipping industry will lag the world recovery. He expects the canal's revenues will rise to $2.02 billion in the year through September from $1.96 billion in the year through September 2009. The Panama Canal Authority is currently in the process of doubling the canal's capacity. The project is expected to cost a total $5.25 billion and be ready in 2014. -By Inti Landauro, Dow Jones Newswires
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The Titan - Heavy Lift Floating Crane - Thanks to Adolf Hitler

Canal Daily Operation The Titan, one of the largest floating cranes in the world, was ordered to be built by Germany's Adolf Hitler and which was later seized by the US during WWII, is now being used by the Panama Canal Authority to lift back-up gates numbers 62 and 63 as part of the work being carried out at the Pedro Miguel locks. Each gate weighs approximately 700 tons and will be transported by barge to the industrial area of Colon where they will receive routine maintenance. (La Prensa)

Editor's Comment: The Titan floating crane was built in Germany in 1941 and after the war was moved to Long Beach, California where it served until 1996. The Titan was sold to the Panama Canal Authority and transported by a heavy lift ship to Panama. Among the largest floating cranes in the world, "Titan" was built by Hitler's Germany and claimed by the United States as war booty. Titan entered service in Panama in 1996 after having served for 50 years in Long Beach, California. The crane can be floated into the locks of the Panama Canal and is used for the heavy lifting required to maintain the doors of the locks of the canal. It can lift 350 metric tons and is one of the "strongest" cranes in the world. Note - this reported lift capability conflicts with the 700 tons the crane is supposedly lifting as reported in this article. The "Titan" was actually one of three built by the Germans. Of the other two, the British got one but lost it in a storm while towing it across the English channel, and the Russians got the other, but no one seems to know what ever became of it. While in Long Beach, the Titan was known as either "Herman the German", or simply the "German Crane."

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Panama Canal Sees Slow Revenue Rebound As Sea Trade Lags

Canal Daily OperationBy Inti Landauro - PANAMA CITY (Dow Jones)--After weathering the financial and economic crisis that crippled global trade, the Panama Canal expects to see a modest rise in revenue this year as the recovery takes time to filter through to the shipping industry. "This year will be flat, it will be very similar in terms of volume," Alberto Aleman, the chief executive of the Panama Canal Authority said in an interview. "We are seeing the same tonnage." The Canal's revenues fell to $1.96 billion in the fiscal year 2009--which ran from October 2008 to September 2009--down from $2.01 billion in 2008. The forecast for this year is $2.02 billion, Aleman said. The canal's net profit will probably fall to around $960 million from $1.01 billion in 2009 and $1.03 billion in 2008. Despite the world economy's recovery, the canal's business will take time to pick up, Aleman said. The shipping industry always lags the rest of the economy as orders take several weeks to reach ports, and it takes companies time to get enough confidence to increase inventories, Aleman said. The canal's fiscal year also includes the fourth quarter of 2009, when a recovery wasn't obvious in countries trading through the canal.
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National Assembly to Ratify New ACP Board Appointees

Canal Daily OperationThis week the National Assembly will consider for ratification the three new members appointed to the Board of Directors of the Panama Canal Authority. Last week the Cabinet Council appointed Nicolás Iván Corcione, José Antonio Sosa and Marco Antonio Ameglio as new members of the board for 2010 - 2019. These three new members, whose appointments require ratification by the National Assembly, will be replacing Antonio Domínguez Álvarez, Guillermo Elías Quijano and Mario Galindo, whose terms are expiring. (Source: La Critica)
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Panama Will Build A New Bridge Over Canal Near Colon

Canal Daily Operation The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) recently asked companies to submit proposals to determine the best way to construct a permanent crossing (bridge, tunnel, or combination) for vehicular traffic to pass over the Panama Canal on the Atlantic side of the waterway near Colon. Today the ACP held a ceremony to open the envelops containing the proposals submitted by the various participating companies. According to a press release, the URS-COWI group, which obtained the best combined score overall, will now have 240 days to submit their final proposal. The price established by URS-COWI was within the anticipated amount of money budgeted for the project, said the press release. URS is an engineering company that provides construction, environment and technical services, which has also previously worked with the ACP. Meanwhile, Cowie is a European engineering group and a leader in bridge design. (Source: La Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Good, excellent. One of the major issues holding back the development of the Atlantic side is quick and easy access to the "lower" coast of the province of Colon. One of my favorite places to go in Panama is the Balneario Tommy on the lower coast, and the biggest drag about going these is the prospect of maybe having to wait 30 minutes or longer before being allowed to drive across the locks to get to the other side. Anyway, I'll be doing a feature piece on them soon. I'm glad to see the government of Panama is going to build a bridge over there. It's been a long time coming.

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Panama vows to implement shipping tolls

Canal Daily Operation
Tolls To Pass The Panama Canal Will Increase
Tolls To Pass The Panama Canal Will Increase
By Robert Wright in London - The administrator of the Panama Canal has vowed to press ahead with a programme of steep toll increases despite complaints that they are aggravating the shipping market crisis. Alberto Alemán Zubieta told the Financial Times that traffic through the canal, which links the Pacific and Atlantic oceans via an 80km waterway, had held up well during 2009 despite sharp toll rises. Figures released last month showed passages through the canal were only 2 per cent lower last year than in 2008. However, he acknowledged that the mix of traffic had changed sharply. The proportion made up of container ships, which have faced the biggest toll increases, has fallen over the past year, while there are higher numbers of bulk carriers loaded with grain. The toll increases are to help fund the $5.25bn (€3.7bn, £3.3bn) expansion of the canal, which will double capacity and hugely increase the size of ship able to use the waterway. The project, due to be completed for the canal's centenary in 2014, would be completed on time and under budget, Mr Alemán Zubieta said. He argued that excessive ship ordering and a slump in demand for their services, rather than high canal tolls, had created container lines' problems. The canal's revenues so far this year are 10 per cent above last year's level because of the toll increases. Following its takeover of the running of the canal 10 years ago, Panama has sought to maximise earnings from the waterway - the tiny country's main strategic resource - and develop it into an important logistics hub. The US, which built the canal and ran it for its first 85 years, sought only to cover operating costs. The largest container ships able to use the canal now pay nearly $320,000 for each transit, after tolls for the vessels more than doubled for container ships over in the past five years. Denmark's Maersk Line, the world's biggest container line and the canal's largest customer, has been among users demanding cuts in the tolls.

Editor's Comment: For the managers of the Panama Canal this is really the definition of a no-brainer. First, you find out how much it costs a ship to go all the way around South America, or to ship the same goods via another alternate route - such as dropping them into the West coast of the US and moving them inland by rail. As long as the Panama Canal is the most cost effective route then the ACP can hike the toll rates as much as they want. The shippers will grumble but eventually just pay the rates and pass the expenses on to their customers. So guess what - your new 58" plasma television costs $5 bucks more because Sony had to pay more to get it through the Panama Canal. Deal with it. It still would have cost $10 bucks more if it went around South America so Panama remains the best value. Within our lifetimes Panama will become the richest country in Latin America (expressed in terms of percentage of GDP per capita on a PPP scale) thanks to the revenue from the current as well as the greatly expanded Panama Canal. Who needs oil when you have the Panama Canal, eh? Ka-ching! Now, shut up and write the damn check - Mama needs a new pair of slippers...

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Panama Canal Authority Releases Fiscal Year 2010 First Quarter Metrics

Canal Daily OperationPANAMA CITY, Panama - The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) released first quarter (Q1) operational metrics today for fiscal year 2010. In Q1, Canal Waters Time (CWT), the average time it takes a vessel to transit the Canal (including waiting time for passage) significantly decreased. There also were increases in total transits and net tonnage. These metrics are based on operations from October through December 2009, the first quarter of the ACP's 2010 fiscal year, and are compared with Q1 of fiscal year 2009. CWT decreased 27.5 percent - to 20.29 hours from 27.97 hours. CWT for booked vessels, those ships holding reservations, also experienced a decrease of 20.7 percent - to 13.43 hours from 16.94 hours. Total Canal transits increased 2 percent - to 3,590 transits from 3,520. Transits of supers, larger ships that require greater time and navigation skills to transit the Canal, increased 8.1 percent - to 2,026 transits from 1,874. With regard to key segments, dry bulk and tankers transits increased, while transits of containers, refrigerated cargo (reefers) and vehicle carriers decreased. "In the first quarter of 2010, we saw an increase in a few key areas - particularly tonnage and transits - which point to a global economy slowly, but surely, recovering," said ACP Executive Vice President of Operations Manuel Benítez. "We will go into the remainder of fiscal year 2010 with slightly positive projections and expect sluggish shipping segments to show some recovery." Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS) tonnage increased 3.5 percent - to 80.9 million PC/UMS tons from 78.2 million PC/UMS tons. The official accident rate declined 0.9 percent to 1.11 accidents per 1,000 transits from 1.12. An official accident is one in which a formal investigation is requested and conducted. Utilization of the booking system decreased 52.6 percent - to 43.1 percent utilization from 90.9 percent.
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Panama marks 10 years since canal handover, cites revenues of $4.75 billion in decade

Canal Daily OperationPANAMA CITY (AP) Panama has made $4.75 billion from the Panama Canal since taking over operations a decade ago, more than twice what it received in the 85 years the United States operated the waterway, the operating authority said Wednesday. Thursday marks the 10th anniversary of the handover of the canal by the U.S., which opened the waterway linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in 1914. It is now run by an autonomous government agency, the Panama Canal Authority. "We have demonstrated to the world that we are not only able to operate the canal, but we can do it efficiently and with big benefits for the country," said the authority's head, Alberto Aleman Zubieta. "Today, we serve customers better." The canal charges ships fees for using the waterway, and income from those fees grew from $201 million in 2000 to $780 million in 2009. Panama received a total of $1.83 billion from the canal in the 85 years it was run by the U.S., according to the authority's report. The canal authority is spending $5.25 billion to widen the 50-mile-long (80-kilometer) canal by 2014, because the waterway is too narrow for today's larger freighters. (Editor's Comment: In case you're wondering, $4.75 billion divided by Panama's population of only 3.3 million people, works out to $1,439.39 for every man, woman, and child in the country. This number will grow exponentially once the program to expand the Panama Canal is completed in 2014. The Panamanian economy continues to grow and expand at a rate faster than the growth of population, so (in simplistic terms) over time there will simply be more money for each person. According to numbers from the International Monitary Fund in 2009 Panama's GDP per capital expressed in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) was $11,589, a number they projected to grow to $15,536 by 2014. The economic fundamentals are undeniable - as time goes on eventually Panama will become the richest country in Latin America, and practically nothing can stop that from happening, eventually.)
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Panama Canal Gross Income Up 9.2% Despite Global Economic Crisis

Canal Daily OperationDia a Dia - Toll revenues from the Panama Canal increased 9.2% during fiscal year 2009 when compared to fiscal year 2008, reported a source today. Total Panama Canal toll revenue for fiscal year 2009 totaled $1.438 billion dollars, compared to $1.317 billion dollars for fiscal year 2008, said a source with the Office of Analysis of Marketing for the Panama Canal Authority (ACP). The Panama Canal runs on a fiscal year from 1 October until 30 September of the next year. According to the source in increase in 2009 fiscal year toll revenue, despite the global financial crisis, came as a result of toll increases applied 1 May to vessels transiting the waterway to finance the cost of the Panama Canal expansion project. The ACP also earned revenues from other services including the sale of water, electricity, and tug rental, among others. However, there was a decrease of 3.4% in the total tonnage movement compared with the previous period. The canal ended fiscal year handling 299 million tons of cargo.
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WILLIS GETS PANAMA CANAL CONTRACT

Canal Daily OperationThe Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has awarded a contract for insurance brokerage services to Willis. A statement says: “Beginning October 2009, the firm will provide strategic counsel, as the ACP chooses the best policies to cover property, floating equipment, loss of income and maritime contingencies, among others. The contract will be for one year with an option to renew for three additional years.” Willis is also the ACP’s broker for its Owner Controlled Insurance Program that includes the Third Party Liability and Construction All Risk coverage for the design and construction of the new set of locks and the fourth dry excavation projects under the Panama Canal Expansion Program. “Willis Limited has the industry experience and knowledge that we need. We are confident that their experience will help the ACP secure the most cost effective and competitive insurance plans. We look forward to working with our current and future insurers through Willis,” said ACP Executive Vice President for Administration and Finance Francisco J. Miguez. The statement says: “The ACP received three bids 4 September from top-level internationally renowned insurance brokerage firms vying for the contract. After careful review and thorough evaluation of the submissions, the ACP selected the firm with the lowest bid that met the contract’s objectives as described in the request for proposal released 4 August.
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Panama Canal CEO Says Auto Shipping Showing ‘Signs of Recovery’

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Ships In Panama Canal
Ships In Panama Canal
By Andrea Jaramillo (Bloomberg) -- The Panama Canal Authority has begun to see “signs of recovery” in shipping traffic, including from freighters transporting cars, said Alberto Aleman, the authority’s chief executive officer. Aleman said he expects traffic in the fiscal year ending in September to total about 295 million tons, up from a previous range he had given of about 290 million to 295 million tons. Traffic in the 95-year-old canal totaled 310 million tons in 2008. Revenue this year will be “similar” to last year’s record $2 billion, Aleman said. “Amid the crisis, amid the recession, this is good,” Aleman, who’s run the canal since 1996, said in a telephone interview from Panama City. Car shipments have “declined as was to be expected given the problems that we’ve seen in the automobile industry worldwide but we’ve seen signs of recovery in this segment.”
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Panama Canal Spends $320M To Boost Capacity To 40 Ships A Day

Canal Daily OperationBy Inti Landauro (Dow Jones) - The Panama Canal Authority invested $320 million since October 2008 in improvements to boost the canal's capacity to 40 ships a day, the authority said Friday in a statement. The investment includes an upgrade of the lighting system in the canal's locks, the acquisition of five new tugboats, and an additional tie-up station and other improvements, the statement said. Those investments are not included in the $5.25 billion expansion plan that will duplicate the canal's capacity by 2014 and to allow wider and longer ships to move between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The Canal Authority will finance the expansion with $2.3 billion worth of loans from five international lenders and the rest will come from canal-generated cash flow.
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Panama Canal to Cut Some Tolls in June

Canal Daily Operation By Peter T. Leach for The Journal of Commerce Online - In a concession to financially pressed shipping lines, the Panama Canal Authority will cut back some tolls and fees while giving carriers greater flexibility in reserving movements through the canal. But the canal authority also left in place new toll increases going into effect May 1, rejecting calls to put off the increases. The new fee structure starting June 1 will temporarily reduce tolls on largely empty containerships and charges for transit reservations. The canal authority said the temporary measures are “designed to help mitigate the impact of the crisis on the Canal’s clients.” Because of the global economic recession and the resulting slump in trade, the major global shipping lines and shipping organizations have been urging the canal authority to delay the toll increases that went into effect May 1. But a reduction in tolls on ships in ballast and in reservation fees from June 1 to Sept. 30 of this year are the only concessions the authority was willing to make. (more)
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CMA CGM Profit Drops 87 Percent in 2008

Canal Daily Operation By Peter T. Leach for The Journal of Commerce Online - CMA CGM profit dropped by almost 87 percent to $124 million in 2008 from $966 million a year earlier as freight rates plummeted on all of its major trade lanes. The French carrier, the world’s third-largest by capacity, reported a 28 percent increase in revenue, which hit $15.1 billion, compared to $11.8 billion the prior year. Volume increased by 15.6 percent to 8.9 million containers from 7.7 million in 2007. “We managed to remain profitable in 2008 although it was obviously not as successful as 2007, which was an exceptional year,” said Rodolphe Saade, chief executive vice president of the Marseilles-based container line, in a telephone interview. "2009 will be a more difficult year, but the company is taking every step to reduce costs, and we have a massive program in place to recuperate the lost revenue,” he said. (more)
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Panama Canal Could See $100 Million Less in FY2009

Canal Daily Operation By María De Gracia for the Panama America - The Panama Canal could see lower income when the final numbers are in at the end of the current fiscal year ending in September 2009 due to the current global recession as a product of the international economic crisis. The income of the Panama Canal could fall just 5% for the fiscal year said Alberto Alemán Zubieta yesterday, the Administrator of the Panama Canal, on the program "Debate Abierto" aired by TVN Channel 2. The Panama Canal took in more than $2 billion dollars in fiscal year 2008, so a drop of 5% would represent about a $100 million dollar loss of revenue. Zubieta said during the program although nobody will be able to escape of the present commercial contraction, it will not be something greatly effecting the canal. He explained the Panama Canal has seen many crises, for example the Great Depression and World War II, and historically speaking when there are economic contractions they are eventually followed by corrections and improvements in the market, and he says that's what will happen with this crisis is over. "It is not that the Panama Canal will not see a reduction in the tonnage, because this will happen, but also one has to consider there has been an increase in tolls," said Zubieta. Canal Expansion: The Panama Canal Authority opened public bidding this month for the dredging to the Atlantic approach to the Panama Canal as part of the expansion program. The contract contemplates the underwater dredging of about 15 million cubic meters of material and 800,000 cubic meters of dry excavation.
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Panama Canal won't alter toll schedule

Canal Daily OperationPeter T. Leach/The JOURNAL of COMMERCE ONLINE - The Panama Canal Authority is sticking to its scheduled May 1 toll increase in the face of plans by some of the world's largest container lines to route their vessels the long way around the Central American isthmus. "We have scheduled the toll increases that were agreed upon after a long period of consultation with the industry in 2006," Rodolfo Sabonge, the canal authority's director of corporate planning and marketing, said in an interview. "We make sure that everybody knows long ahead of time what we're doing. That has a lot of stability for the shipping industry and the shippers themselves." (more)
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CMA CGM Asia-Carib service to bypass Panama Canal

Canal Daily OperationRick Eyerdam - Florida Shipper - French carrier CMA CGM has decided to bypass the Panama Canal on the homebound leg of its PEX2 service linking Asia to the Caribbean in favor of a longer -- but less expensive -- route around Africa's Cape of Good Hope. “Even after we add a tenth vessel of 4,000 TEUs to the PEX2 service, we will save more than $200,000 by returning to Asia by traveling east around Africa,” said Laurent Falguiere, vice president, Caribbean and Latin American Lines at CMA CGM Group, in a telephone interview from the company's headquarters in Marseilles. Asked if he was sending a message to the Panama Canal Authority, which will raise tolls on May 1 by 14 percent -- the second increase in two years -- Falguiere said, “It is not to pressure the Panama Canal Authority. It is a very pragmatic position that we are taking. The primary reason was to look at the costs, and you cannot just ignore these savings.” (more)
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Panama Canal Traffic Did NOT Drop 12.9% (ACP Screwed Up)

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By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Apparently the Panama Canal Authority held a press conference yesterday in which they presented the traffic totals for 2008. As a result, now practically every news organization in the world is reporting that traffic through the Panama Canal dropped 12.9% from 2007 to 2008. In fact, this is not correct. In 2007 14,721 ships passed through the Panama Canal, and in 2008 a total of 14,702 ships went through, or only 19 ships less than in 2007. That represents a relatively tiny drop of only 00.129%, or just over one tenth of one percent. You can see where the "12.9% drop" error came from. Someone at the ACP did the math but they just didn't understand where to place the decimal point. In fact, if there had been a drop of 12.9% compared to 2007 traffic, then there only would have been 12,821 ships passing through in 2008. Expect the ACP to issue some kind of a statement to correct this error today. And, you're welcome.

Copyright 2008 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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Panama Canal forecasts a drop in tonnage due to U.S. recession

Canal Daily OperationPanama City, Feb 9 (EFE).- U.S. economic woes have influenced estimates of the Panama Canal Authority, which now forecasts a 5-percent drop in cargo tonnage going through the waterway in 2008-2009. The authority, known as the ACP, said that cargo transiting the canal will show a decrease close to 19.9 million tons, leaving a total of 294.1 million. ACP Marketing Director Rodolfo Sabonge told the press that the forecasts are nonetheless subject to the way the United States and other countries stricken by the world financial crisis manage to reactivate their economies. The ACP said that ship traffic going through the canal was also affected by high fuel costs and the devaluation of the dollar. The canal closed the 2008 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, with a total of 14,702 crossings, or 12.9 percent less than the previous year (wrong - see comments). But toll revenues in 2008 totaled $1.32 billion, an increase of 11.3 percent over the previous year. (See Comments)
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