Record Panama Canal toll paid by Japanese container ship

The Panama Canal has a limited number of expedited transit slots that go up for bid each day. A Japanese firm bid $4 MM in addition to the standard $800,000 toll to get their ship through.

The Panama Canal is so clogged up that a shipping company paid $4 million to jump the line: report (



Well, it makes sense. The most valuable and time critical cargo should use the canal, the less valuable cargo will go around the long way.

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Averages probably don’t count for much, but it takes an average of $150,000 a day to run a cargo ship, and “going the long way” will add at least a couple months to the voyage. So 60 x 150,000 = $9,000,000. The other option being, of course, wait your turn in line and pay the crew for an extra week, or get the Disney “all in” pass for $4M.

Yes, there’s plenty of water on both sides, but it’s salty, and the middle is fresh. Presumably that provides drinking water and more through that narrow part of the isthmus, although that’s pure speculation on my part.

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That’s right. Lake Gatun is a public water supply.

The new larger locks have water reclamation basins that reduce the draw from Lake Gatun for each passage by about 60%.

If the tolls get high enough, you could probably afford to run the Canal on pumped seawater.


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If it’s just a week then it’s obviously worth waiting. In almost all cases. Unless you are carrying produce that can spoil. But what if there are 1000 ships and the canal can only handle 800 of them? Which 200 have to take the long way around? Usually the 200 that can’t pay as much as the 800 can.

There are other corridors in development or redevelopment across Mexico and Nicaragua. I own vacation properties in the resort town of Huatulco, very close to Salina Cruz, the Pacific terminus of the Mexican railroad.

The Nicaragua route for a new canal makes a lot of sense except for environmental catastrophes, costs, and rapacious illegitimate governance by Daniel Ortega and his clan.

david fb

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There was a Chinese backed proposal to build a canal but it never happened. From 2019:


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At the other end of the scale, travel adventure writer Richard Halliburton swam the canal in 1928. He paid toll, as the “SS Richard Halliburton”, at the same rate as other ships.

If you want to read the account of his trip through Latin America, it’s in “New Worlds to Conquer”, which is probably my favorite of his books. “Royal Road To Romance” would be second-best.



I just learned that LNG ‘boils off’ and so that cargo is time sensitive.

LNG tankers often use some of their cargo, stored in liquid form at minus 163 degrees Celsius, for power, as a small portion tends to evaporate or “boil off” during transit and needs to be removed from the tanks anyway to avoid a build up of pressure.

Older LNG tankers run on steam turbines that burn a combination of fuel oil and boil-off gas, while vessels built after 2014 have more efficient dual or tri-fuel diesel engines that burn a mixture of marine gasoil and boil-off gas.

When gas prices were lower, operators chose to boil off more of their cargoes over using fuel oil to power the ships. But the price of LNG is so high that they are trying to avoid using more than necessary of the stored gas and are instead relying on cheaper fuel oil, the sources told Reuters.



@DrBob2 I saw that this morning on twitter and was planning on coming here to post it!