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Panama Canal holds first auction for vessels in queue

Photo: ACP Vessel transiting the Panama Canal
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has launched a programme to auctions of transits for vessels waiting to pass through the waterway with a winning bid of $1.1 million at the first auction on Saturday.

There is a growing queue of vessels due to the decrease in daily transits as result of measures to combat low water levels. The first auction was held on Saturday 25 November and the base price was $55,000.

Only vessels that arrived before 17 November in Panamanian waters and did not have a reservation were accepted to bid, and those that were favoured would have their transit on Monday 27 November. A chemical tanker was awarded the special slot for $1,100,100.

In a communiqué to the shipping lines, the ACP informed that the auction will be announced three days before the transit date and will be held two days before, as was the case on 25 Saturday.

Transits will take place through the Panamax locks and the auction will be available to regular vessels and Panamax vessels that have at least 10 days in queue, as of the date of the ad hoc auction.

"The purpose of this measure is to provide greater opportunities to obtain a place for vessels in the Panamax locks that have been waiting in the transit queue for an extended period of time," the ACP said.

The Canal Authority added that spaces (slots) that become available during the reserve period may be offered through extraordinary auctions, depending on several factors, including the water level of Gatun Lake.

Full container vessels that have already obtained a reservation space before the auctions are called will also be considered.

The charges derived from these auctions will be additional to the usual tolls paid for crossing.