Containership Pays Nearly $1 Million Toll to Cross the Expanded Panama Canal

Mike Schuler
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July 5, 2016

MOL Benefactor transits the expanded Panama Canal, July 1, 2016. Photo: Panama Canal Authority

With the opening of the Panama Canal expansion in June, it was to be expected that the waterway would shatter all sorts of cargo volume records, but with the canal’s added capacity one figure in particular stands out: $829,468.

That’s the staggering toll a containership previously too big to use the Panama Canal just paid to pass through it.

MOL Benefactor in the new locks of the expanded Panama Canal. Photo: MOL
MOL Benefactor in the new locks of the expanded Panama Canal. Photo: MOL

The toll was paid by the Mitsui O.S.K. Lines-operated MOL Benefactor for a northbound transit of the canal on July 1, 2016, the Panama Canal Authority has confirmed. The previous toll record was paid by the COSCO Shipping Panama for its inaugural transit of expanded locks to the tune of $575,545.

In fact, the 10,000 TEU MOL Benefactor was actually the first neopanamax containership to use the new locks since commercial operations began June 27, so the transit offers a glimpse of what is likely to come in terms of toll revenue. 

The ACP said as of June 30 a total a total of 174 vessel has booked slots to transit the Panama Canal’s neopanamax locks, although it did not disclose how many of those were specifically neopanamax containerships. 

The ACP sets tolls for containerships based on vessel size and TEUs, so assuming containerships with a cargo capacity of up to 13,000 TEU begin using the canal as expected, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before we see the first million dollar transit of the Panama Canal. 

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