Panama Canal boxes surge

Panama Canal boxes surge

The volume of container traffic through the Panama Canal increased by 22 percent in the fiscal third quarter of 2004 compared to the year-ago quarter, the Panama Canal Authority announced Monday.

Container tonnage grew to 14,172,000 long tons from 11,617,000 long tons from April through June, largely because of the increase in trade between the United States and Asia, the authority said.

The third quarter also saw an increase in total transits, growth in revenue and a rise in total tonnage moved through the Canal, as measured by Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS) tons.

Tonnage increased this quarter by 13.2 percent, to 68,120,039 tons from 60,155,135 tons reported in a year ago.

Container throughput increased by 12.86 percent to 4,986,228 TEUs from 4,401,841 TEUs reported in the year-ago period.

Revenue for the quarter increased 18.1 percent, to $192.7 million from $163.1 million.

"Business is thriving at the Panama Canal," said Administrator and Chief Executive Alberto Aleman Zubieta. "The Canal strives to meet new demands of the maritime and shipping industry while we constantly seek to improve the waterway's safety, reliability and efficiency."

Two official accidents were recorded during the quarter compared with five last year, a 60 percent reduction. An official accident is one in which a formal investigation is requested and conducted.

The total number of vessels that transited the Canal was up by 9.4 percent, to 3,732 from 3,411 reported in last year's quarter. Among these transits, there was a 20.4 percent boost in the number of panamax vessels - to 1,370 from 1,138.

The movement of crude oil through the Canal continued to increase because of economic demand.

Maintenance and capital improvement initiatives, including the replacement of locomotive tow track at Gatun Locks, and increases in traffic and tonnage led to a rise in Canal Waters Time (CWT), the average time it takes a vessel to navigate the waterway including waiting time for passage.

For vessels with transit reservations, CWT increased by 3.7 percent, to 16.43 from 15.84 hours. The so-called booked vessels account for nearly half of all transits.

Total CWT increased by 34.7 percent, to 28 hours from 20.8 hours in the year-ago quarter.