Panama Canal is so congested that one ship owner just paid $4M to skip the line

Panama Canal is so congested that one ship owner just paid $4M to skip the line

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 Wednesday 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, chief executive officer of Flex LNG Ltd. and Avance Gas Holding Ltd., said during a conference call Wednesday 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. The Panama Canal Authority also holds auctions for those wishing to jump to the front of the line.

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