THE Panama Canal will lift daylight and encounter restrictions on liquefied natural gas
(LNG) vessels, starting from October 1, increasing LNG transits 50 per
"Lifting daylight restrictions means LNG
vessels will be able to transit the locks at night ?as vessels in other
segments currently do," explained deputy administrator Manuel Benitez
during a press briefing at the World Gas Conference in Washington, DC.
"Lifting encounter restrictions means LNG vessels will be able to
navigate Gatun Lake at the same time, allowing two different LNG vessels
to transit the canal the same day in two different directions.
Together, these changes will provide more flexibility and time during
the day to transit LNG vessels, and result in an opportunity for LNG
shippers to compete for a second booking slot."
Currently, with these restrictions in place, the Panama Canal provides
one dedicated reservation slot to LNG carriers per day. This equates to
seven dedicated LNG booking slots per week. This is more than the
current demand from LNG shippers, who average 5.5 transits per week.
In addition to the one dedicated slot, the canal frequently works with
customers to transit vessels that arrive without a prior reservation, so
long as the day's vessel mix allows.
The waterway has regularly transited two LNG vessels in the same
direction on the same day and demonstrated the ability to transit up to
three vessels on the same day in the same direction during exceptionally
"By lifting these restrictions on October 1, the canal will unleash even
more capacity for LNG," added executive manager Silvia de Marucci at
"In addition to the one reservation it guarantees each day the canal
will soon offer LNG shippers, for the first time, the opportunity to
compete among our wider vessel segments to book a second daily slot,"