The Panama Canal has registered the 4000th transit of a Neopanamax vessel through the expanded canal following its opening in June 2016.
Of the 4,000 vessels that have transited to date, roughly 52% have been from the container segment.
Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vessels constitute another 27%, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers, a relatively new segment to the Panama Canal, have been responsible for 10% of traffic.
Dry and liquid bulk carriers, car carriers and cruise ships make up the remaining transits.
Panama Canal administrator, Jorge L. Quijano said: “The steady increase in Neopanamax transits reflect our customers’ confidence in the expanded canal, particularly with our fastest-growing segment.
“This reaffirms the value and impact our route has had across global maritime trade, including the fast-growing LNG segment.”
The 4000th vessel was the LNG tanker Maria Energy completing the milestone transit traveling southbound from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean on July 29.
Today, the waterway regularly transits two LNG vessels the same direction in the same day, and has demonstrated the ability to transit up to three vessels the same day in the same direction during periods of uncharacteristically high demand.
The Panama Canal has announced that it will be lifting natural daylight restrictions for LNG transits from October 2018 to offer added capacity to shippers.
By lifting encounter restrictions, LNG vessels will also 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, offering more flexibility to the segment.