Vessel Congestion Pushing Up Panama Prices

Monday October 12, 2015

A jump in Panama's bunker prices last week was fuelled by vessel congestion, according to sources quoted by Platts.

Data from Ship & Bunker shows that on Friday the average price for key grade IFO380 was up $28.00 per metric tonne (pmt) week-on-week to $261.50 pmt, a gain of $15.00 pmt month-on-month.

The congestion was said to have been caused by the late-September and early-October arrival of a large number of tankers looking to bunker on both sides of the Panama Canal ahead of the Christmas season.

Tracking software last week was said to have shown almost 200 stationary vessels across Balboa and Cristobal.

"Those tankers that arrived to Panama at the end of September are already in transit, but the recent ones will have to wait more days to move," a Panama-based physical supplier was quoted as saying.

Maintenance work related to the Panama Canal expansion project was also said to have been contributing to the congestion.

Earlier this month The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) said repairs to cracks in the new locks are not expected to push back the expansion's planned April 2016 opening.