ACP proposes lowering tolls for new panamax backhauls

Time: 2017-06-06 13:38
PANAMA Canal Authority (ACP) has proposed a rate schedule to be implemented on October 1, which includes reduced tolls for large container ships using the canal's new locks for Atlantic-to-Pacific backhauls.
With the changes, the ACP hopes to attract more two-way traffic by container lines as they continue to revise service networks after a global restructuring of operating alliances and a flurry of industry consolidation.
The proposed toll changes would be the first since the canal opened new locks last June that allowed transits of ships with capacities as high as about 13,000 TEU, compared with the 4,500 to 5,000 TEU of the canal's older locks.
Canal officials have sought to maximize toll revenue while keeping the waterway competitive with alternate routes including the Suez Canal and intermodal container gateways at US West Coast ports. A loyalty programme providing discounts for high-volume container lines remains in place.
Panama Canal tolls vary according to a ship's type, size, and cargo load. The new container ship formula would reduce backhaul tolls for new panamax ships that were at least 70 per cent full on their headhaul voyage through the canal. To qualify for the discount, ships would have to return through the canal within 25 days., excluding time at anchorage or in Panamanian ports, according to IHS Media.
The canal authority offered this example of how the discount would work: A 9,000-TEU ship carrying 6,500 loaded TEU, or 72.2 per cent of capacity, would pay a regular US$677,500 toll for its headhaul voyage. That same ship, carrying 4,000 TEU on the backhaul, would pay $550,000, a 6.8 per cent reduction from the current $590,000 toll.
Other proposals include toll reductions for combination container-breakbulk vessels, and increases in tolls for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers.
The new plan would reduce tolls for laden container-breakbulk ships by slightly more than 8 per cent, by including them in the same category as general cargo ships. The increase for LPG and LNG vessels was attributed to the popularity of the larger locks for those vessels, and to the operational restrictions posed by those ships' cargoes.
"The proposed changes reflect the changing nature of the demand in the main routes, utilisation levels, and productivity of the new Panamax locks," the ACP said. "This adjustment leads to the assessment of a fair price while maintaining the competitiveness of the route."
The canal authority will accept comments until July 3 and will hold a public hearing in Panama City on July 5 on the changes, which were proposed after meetings with canal customers and industry representatives in Europe, Asia, and North America.

DP World sets sights on minority stake in Russia's Fesco

DP World is said to be mulling the acquisition of a minority stake in Fesco, Russia's largest intermodal transport group that operates a container shipping line and box terminal at the port of Vladivostok.
The Moscow-based Summa Group is reportedly holding talks with DP World and Russia's state-owned Direct Investment Fund over the sale of the Fesco stakeholding, reported IHS Media.
Fesco is currently in talks with its creditors and bondholders over the restructuring of its debts in the wake of declining revenue and earnings, dragged down by the weak Russian ruble and weak container and rail freight rates.
DP World launched in January 2016 a joint venture with the Direct Investment Fund that plans to invest up to US$2 billion in upgrading the country's port facilities. DP World has an 80 per cent stake in the JV, DP World Russia, with the sovereign wealth fund holding the remaining 20 per cent.
DP World's container port throughput rose 5.7 per cent in the first quarter, reaching 16.4 million TEU. Full-year volume in 2016 was up 3.2 per cent to 63.7 million TEU and was 2.2 per cent higher on a like-for-like basis.
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