Panama Canal to lift restrictions on LNG Transits on 1 October 2018
On 27 June 2018, at the World Gas Conference in Washington DC Deputy Administrator Manuel E. Benitez announced that the Panama Canal will lift self-imposed daylight and encounter restrictions on LNG vessels, effective 1 October 2018.
The lifting of daylight restrictions means LNG vessels will be permitted to transit locks at night. The lifting of encounter restrictions means multiple LNG vessels will be able to navigate Gatun Lake at the same time, enabling two different LNG vessels to transit the Canal the same day in two different directions. This will offer new flexibility and time each day for the transit of LNG vessels, increasing capacity and providing a second transit slot for reservation each day.
Under the current system the Panama Canal provides one dedicated reservation slot to LNG carriers per day, equating to seven dedicated LNG booking slots per week. In addition to the dedicated slot, additional vessels are allowed to transit without prior reservation, provided the vessel mix allows. The Panama Canal has regularly transited two LNG vessels the same direction in the same day, and demonstrated the ability to transit up to three vessels the same day in the same direction during periods of uncharacteristically high demand.
Nisomar will work with its clients to maximise the benefits afforded by the lifting of these restrictions.
UPDATE: The Panama Canal Authority has now announced the necessary modifications to the transit reservation system rules in order to bring these changes into effect. Full details can be found on the Panama Canal website https://www.pancanal.com/common/maritime/advisories/2018/a-29-2018.pdf