Japan’s Eneos Group set a new record by paying nearly $4 million to secure priority passage through the congested Panama Canal.
The company paid $3.975 million in an auction, surpassing previous payments for expedited crossings. Eneos, a major player in transporting commodities such as crude oil, liquefied petroleum gas, chemicals, and bulk cargo, did not provide any comments on the transaction.
The Panama Canal has been experiencing increased congestion due to a growing queue of ships, exacerbated by a prolonged drought. The canal’s managing authority has implemented severe restrictions to manage the situation, leading to a surge in demand for priority access, marked by regular auctions.
As the canal faces challenges with water supply and climate change-related issues, discussions about alternative routes have resurfaced. A century-old debate about a canal through Nicaragua has gained attention, with some experts suggesting its technical feasibility.
However, obstacles such as longer distances and potential environmental consequences pose significant challenges. Estimates indicate a cost exceeding $40 billion to construct a Nicaraguan Canal, a project that would require a steady flow of ships over the years to generate income for investors.
While some attempts were made in the past, including a 2013 agreement between a Chinese firm, HKND, and the Nicaraguan government, progress has been elusive. Environmental concerns, resistance from local communities, and doubts about the government’s commitment have prevented the realization of what would have been a decades-long megaproject.
Despite these hurdles, Nicaraguan officials assert that the canal project has not been abandoned. However, skepticism remains, Michelle Wiese Bockmann, senior analyst at global maritime trade experts Lloyd’s List Intelligence, has dismissed the idea as “absolute rubbish” in a BBC story due to the lack of tangible progress over the years.
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