New York, 20 April (Argus) — The Panama Canal Authority is considering closing the east lane of the canal at the Gatun Lock for ten days from 9-18 May for scheduled preventative maintenance. The Authority told Argus that it will confirm the outage approximately four-five days prior.
The Authority has reduced the number of vessel booking slots during this period. The canal’s west lane will remain open allowing for south-bound and north-bound traffic to continue to pass. There will not be restrictions on the size of vessels operating in the west lane.
The reduced transiting vessel traffic could affect the demand for bunkering in Panama during the ten-day period. Heavy bunker fuel sales increased by 9pc to 771,594t in January and February this year, compared with the same period in 2016. Marine gasoil (MGO) sales were up 35pc to 60,113t. The Pacific side of the canal accounts for over 70pc of local heavy bunker fuel sales and over 60pc of MGO sales.
Vessels took over 11 hours on average to transit the canal in March. Following the canal’s expansion in July, Neopanamax vessels, with beams of 107ft and longer, are able to transit. The number of Neopanamax transits spiked in January to 160. Neopanamaxes utilized 78pc of their available slots in January.
“The Canal coordinates the maintenance in order [to] minimize impact to transit capacity,” a representative for the canal said.
Panama number of oceangoing transits