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July 04, 2018

Panama Canal will reduce transit restrictions for gas carriers

The Panama Canal announced that it will lift self-imposed daylight and encounter restrictions on liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels, in anticipation of LNG transit needs. The changes will go into effect October 1, 2018.

"Lifting daylight restrictions means LNG vessels will be able to transit the locks at night - as vessels in other segments currently do," explained Mr. Benitez during a presentation. "Lifting encounter restrictions means LNG vessels will be able to navigate Gatun Lake at the same time, allowing two different LNG vessels to transit the Canal the same day in two different directions. Together, these changes will provide more flexibility and time during the day to transit LNG vessels, and result in an opportunity for LNG shippers to compete for a second booking slot."

Currently, with these restrictions in place, the Panama Canal provides one dedicated reservation slot to LNG carriers per day. This equates to seven dedicated LNG booking slots per week.

"By lifting these restrictions on October 1, the Canal will unleash even more capacity for LNG," said Silvia de Marucci, Executive Manager, Economic Analysis and Market Research Division at the conference. "In addition to the one reservation it guarantees each day, the Canal will soon offer LNG shippers, for the first time, the opportunity to compete among our wider vessel segments to book a second daily slot."

Source: Panama Canal Authority