$4 Million Lets Shipper Cut to Front of Line at Panama Canal

Auction Process Open to Those Who Don’t Want to Battle Congestion
Panama Canal
The Panama Canal had its driest October since 1950. (Panama Canal Authority)

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A shipper has paid nearly $4 million to jump to the front of the line at the congested Panama Canal waterway, a record high.

Japan’s Eneos Group paid $3.975 million in an auction Nov. 8 to secure the crossing, bidding documents show. That comes on top of the regular transit fees companies pay, which can be hundreds of thousands of dollars more.

“You are getting close to $4.5 million to use the canal, so that is pricing out a lot of ships,” Oystein Kalleklev, CEO of Flex LNG Ltd. and Avance Gas Holding Ltd., said during a conference call Nov. 8 when asked about the state of the canal.

Eneos’ shipping division transports various commodities, including crude oil, liquefied petroleum gas, chemicals and bulk cargo. Eneos and the Panama Canal Authority didn’t respond to a request for comment.

A queue of ships waiting to use the canal has been growing in recent months amid a deep drought. To manage the situation, the canal’s managing authority has announced increasingly drastic restrictions for the depleted thoroughfare. It also lets companies bid on the chance to speed things up and move to the front of the line. Last month, the Panama Canal Authority held 140 auctions, it said. Three of those came in above $1 million.

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