Panama Canal Modifies Reservation System
The Panama Canal will implement, from October 1, changes in the transit reservation system for the new neopanamax locks, which includes a restructuring of payment fees for the natural gas segment liquefied (LNG), in order to optimize the use of the interoceanic route.
A press release from Panama Canal Administration (ACP) said that the modifications "are a positive step for the neopanamax locks", and take into account the lifting of certain rules of navigation to LNG ships, as well as the comments of customers.
In order to maximize the benefits of these new navigation rules, modifications to the Transit Reservation (Booking) System for Neopanamax vessels are required. The following changes are the result of in-depth analysis of the needs of this market segment and consultation with our customers, it said.
The release said that among the main issues addressed were the need to increase the number of LNG vessels that may book per day, and adjustment of the booking periods based on the needs of the LNG industry, which include the spot and long term contracts market (Annual Delivery Program) scheduling.
The modifications to the reservation system also address the current practice by some LNG customers of acquiring booking slots during the first period competition, to the point where these slots are nearly sold out up to 365 days in advance, while in reality these slots are only used on average 60 percent of the time.
This practice is detrimental since it creates the perception that the Panama Canal does not have the capacity to handle the actual LNG demand, affecting not only the best interests of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) and the LNG industry, but of other customers as well.
These modifications will allow the Panama Canal to better handle the present and expected demand for LNG vessel transit slots by providing the certainty and flexibility required by the LNG market segment. These changes should also improve the efficiency of the transit reservation system, which will benefit all users of the Neopanamax locks.
The modifications that will be implemented for Neopanamax vessels include a new booking period within the 1st Booking Period; modifications in the duration of the periods; redistribution of slots within the periods; modifications to the cancellation fee structure; as well as other modifications, which will become effective October 1, 2018.