Panama Canal Raises Rates Due to Drought Situation 

 Coral Princess

The Panama Canal has added new fees and changed its reservation system to counter historic drought levels.

“Due to changing rainfall patterns and historic low water levels at Gatun Lake, the main source of water for the waterway, the Panama Canal today that it will implement a series of new measures beginning February 15 to sustain an operational level of water and provide reliability to customers while it implements a long-term solution to water,” said a statement from the Panama Canal Authority.

This past year’s rainfall was 20 per cent below the historic average and the fifth driest year in 70 years. It follows several years of lower than average rainfall coupled by a 10 per cent increase in water evaporation levels due to a 0.5-1.5 degree Celsius rise in temperature.

Without fee and operational changes, the Canal’s water levels are projected to drop to levels that would affect the Neopanamax and Panamax Locks. These new measures are intended to better provide reliability in water levels and therefore transit schedules.

A new freshwater fee will be applied to all vessels over 125 feet in length overall (LOA) that transit through the Panama Canal, and will include the following components: A fixed fee of $10,000 per transit and a variable fee ranging from a minimum of 1 per cent to a maximum of 10 per cent of the vessel’s toll will be applied depending on Gatun Lake levels at the time of transit (i.e. if the lake has a higher level, the percentage will be lower and vice versa).

The Panama Canal will adjust the number of daily reservation slots available to 27, replicating the total offered during lane outages.

The waterway will also require that each vessel pays its booking fee in full no later than 48 hours depending on the booking period.

A handling service fee will be applied to all visits for transit at the time they are created in the system. The processing fee will be applied as follows: For vessels 91 feet in beam and over: $5,000. For vessels over 125 feet LOA, but less than 91 feet in beam: $1,500.

The fee will be deducted from the vessel’s tolls invoice once the vessel begins transit. If the vessel cancels the visit and does not transit, the Vessel Visit Creation Fee will not be refunded. All visits created prior to February 15, 2020 will be honoured and will not be required to pay this fee.

“The decision to adopt such measures was taken following an evaluation of the impact of innovative techniques already instituted to save water used in the Canal’s operations. For example, the Panama Canal has been implementing cross-filling lockages, a technique that sends water between the two lanes at the Panamax Locks during transits and saves an amount of water equivalent to that used in six lockages each day,” the Panama Canal Authority said.

PHOTOS: First Ship Passes Through Panama Canal’s New Locks

The first trial run with a Post-Panamax cargo ship in the new sets of locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

The first trial run with a Post-Panamax cargo ship in the new sets of locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
Thanks to https://gcaptain.com/ for the story.

A post-panamax bulk carrier became the first ship to pass through the Panama Canal’s new locks on Thursday, kicking off a series of trial runs ahead of the expanded canal’s grand opening later this month.

The $5.3 billion expansion project involves the construction of a new set of locks on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides and multiple dredging projects to create a second lane of traffic along the canal. The new locks are much wider and deeper than the current locks.

The first run was meant to simulate a southbound transit through the new Agua Clara locks on Atlantic side of the 255-meter-long, 43m wide MV Boroque, which was chartered by the Panama Canal Authority specifically for this purpose.

The trial runs will help Panama Canal workers prepare for the start of commercial operations on June 27 when the first vessels will begin using the new “neopanamax” locks on either ends of the canal. Unlike the existing locks, which use locomotives, the new locks require the use of two tugs positioned forward and aft to guide the ships through.

For that reason, Panama Canal pilots and tugboat captains have been required to go through extensive training at the canal’s own simulator training center and a nearby scale model facility, but there’s nothing like the real.

Panama Canal Authority
Panama Canal Authority

Before heading through the new locks, the MV Boroque was boarded by Panama Canal pilots before entering designated canal waters.

Panama Canal Authority
Panama Canal Authority
Headed for the new locks. Panama Canal Authority
Headed for the new locks. Panama Canal Authority

Like you will see in this video explaining the operation of the new locks, the MV Boroque was met by two tugs, one forward and one after, before entering the locks.

Panama Canal Authority
Panama Canal Authority
The first trial run with a Post-Panamax cargo ship in the new sets of locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

The lead tug here was the Cerro Santiago, one of many built by the Panama Canal Authority in anticipation of the new locks.

The first trial run with a Post-Panamax cargo ship in the new sets of locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
The first trial run with a Post-Panamax cargo ship in the new sets of locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
Workers pull the rope during the first trial run of a Post-Panamax cargo ship in the new sets of locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
Workers pull the rope during the first trial run of a Post-Panamax cargo ship in the new sets of locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
Panama Canal Authority
Panama Canal Authority
A tugboat drags a Post-Panamax cargo ship during the first trial run at the new sets of locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
A tugboat drags a Post-Panamax cargo ship during the first trial run at the new sets of locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
The first trial run with a Post-Panamax cargo ship in the new sets of locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
The first trial run with a Post-Panamax cargo ship in the new sets of locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, in Panama City, Panama June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
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Panama Canal Authority

Inauguration of the Third Set of Locks project is scheduled for June 26 with commercial operations scheduled to begin the next day. During the initial stage of operation, only four vessels per day will be allowed to use the new locks to allow workers the chance to get used to the new operation.

Panama Canal Authority
Panama Canal Authority
Panama Canal Authority
Panama Canal Authority
Panama Canal Authority
Panama Canal Authority