ATLANTA, June 27 – Panama and the booming traffic in the Panama Canal have been making headlines in trade publications and news reports.

The Canal is experiencing record volumes due to growing container traffic to the U.S. East Coast and a new liquefied natural gas export business to Asia, according to Freightwaves, a data and content forum that provides market participants with near-time analytics on the state of the freight market and tools that provide actionable outcomes. 

In May, a total of 38.1M tons went through the canal, the forum reported, citing the Panama Canal Universal Measurement System. The monthly tonnage was the third time the Panama Canal has set a tonnage record since work finished on its expansion in 2016, according to the Forum. 
The Freightwaves report also referred to a comment by Jorge Quijano, the Panama Canal’s administrator, in which he told the Wall Street Journal that he expects container volumes crossing the canal to rise an average 5 percent annually during the next few years. 

In addition, the containership segment broke its own monthly record in May as well, on 13.8M tons transited by 229 ships, according to the forum. While the Ports of New York and New Jersey have not yet released their May numbers, the Freightwaves report piinted out that April’s loaded TEUs were up 8.8 percent year over year.

Panama Gateway previously reported that the Port of Savannah handled 3 million tons of cargo in May, an increase of 8.9 percent or 247,671 tons compared the same month a year ago. Total cargo crossing all terminals reached 3.22 million tons.
“Our May numbers reflect strong performances in breakbulk and containerized trade, showing growing global demand for both retail goods and manufacturing inputs,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch.

May was GPA’s busiest May ever and the second busiest month in the Port of Savannah’s history, moving a total of 361,029 twenty-foot equivalent container units, an increase of 3.1 percent or 10,924 TEUs. For the fiscal year to date, the Port of Savannah has achieved an 8.3 percent surge in twenty-foot equivalent container units (290,422 TEUs) compared to the same period a year ago. Through May, the GPA has moved 3.8 million TEUs.
“The Georgia Ports Authority is on track to have the most successful year in its history, on a number of fronts,” said GPA Board Chairman Jimmy Allgood. “Record growth in trade, teamwork and a strong relationship with our local communities and elected officials have helped to put our ports over the top.”

In a separate report by Reuters, the international news agency based in London reported that Panama has imported its first liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo to commission the newly built $1 billion Costa Norte facility and power plant at Colon. The Colon LNG Terminal, also known as the Costa Norte LNG Terminal, is an LNG terminal at the Caribbean mouth to the Canal. The terminal was built for the purpose of serving as a launching pad for LNG trade across Central America.

Shipping data shows the Engie-chartered Provalys tanker arrived in Colon carrying a cargo exported from the Sabine Pass plant in Louisiana in March, according to Reuters.

AES Panama, a unit of U.S. electric utility AES with a 50 percent stake in the facility, announced the delivery, saying the cargo will supply the 380 megawatt (MW) AES Colon gas-fired power plant as test flows commence, Reuters reported.