Want to Use Expanded Canal? Tankers Need Modifications

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Tankers Expected to Undergo Changes to fit in the Expanded Canal

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On August 21, the tanker Aegean Unity built in 2016 flying the Greek flag transited the Panama Canal becoming the first Suezmax tanker to transit the expanded canal.  It has a capacity of one million barrels of crude oil.  Whereas, the situation is not the same for all the tankers as most of them need to undergo certain changes to fit in the expanded Panama Canal.           

As per the experts there are nearly 900 Aframax tankers in the global fleet as well as about 500 Suezmax ships where nearly half to three-quarters of the vessels, most of which are built prior to 2015 needs reconstruction to transit through the locks.

Henceforth it is clear that the expectation of some oil brokers and intermediaries that the expansion of the Panama Canal opens a new route for VLCCs will take longer than expected to become a reality.

Modifications required for the tankers to stay upbeat in the market!

The modification of these huge vessels mainly involves mooring cable bollards that are necessary, because the new locks use tugboats instead of locomotives to guide ships.

Previously only a fraction of these vessels transporting oil products transited the Panama Canal, but the canal expansion has drawn the attention of operators who hope to gain a faster and cheaper method of reaching international oil markets with larger ship access. Although now most of the vessels fit through the new locks, many do not have the necessary equipment to be towed by tugs in the expanded canal.

Although these new standards were published before the opening of the expansion, the necessary changes must be made at a time when the sector is facing financial stress.  The Canal expansion makes the route more competitive and opens new routes for oil companies, said Canal Administrator Jorge Luis Quijano.

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Source: The Bulletin Panama

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