The Panama Canal set a new monthly tonnage record last month, breaking the previously-held record the third time since the opening of the Expanded Panama two years ago.
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP), the autonomous agency of the Panama Government responsible for the management of waterway, said it recorded a new record of 38.1 million tons after facilitating the transit of 1,231 vessels in May 2018.
The previous record was set in January 2017 when 1,260 vessels transited 36.1 million tons (PC/UMS) through the waterway, breaking an earlier record set just a month earlier with 35.4 million tons (PC/UMS) transited by 1,166 vessels in December 2016.
The ACP said the container ship segment contributed highest tonnage (36%), breaking its segment record with 13.8 million tons (PC/UMS) transited by 229 vessels.
“This new historical milestone reiterates the positive effect of the Expanded Canal and is further proof of the continued confidence of the maritime industry in the Panama Canal, and the impact it will have on the future of world maritime trade,” said the Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano.
Since the inauguration of the Neopanamax locks in June 2016, the Expanded Panama Canal has received around 3,800 Neopanamax vessels, around 50 percent of which are containerships. The waterway has also welcomed liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and, for the first time, liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels, as well as bulk carriers, tankers, cruisers and vehicle carriers.
In March, the ACP added an additional reservation slot for Neopanamax vessels, raising the total available from seven to eight per day, in response to customer demand and its need for additional capacity.
Just this month, the ACP increased the maximum allowable beam for vessels in the Neopanamax locks, which will inevitably lead to even-bigger ships using the waterway.