Some 3.5 million metric tons of bunker are handled annually in the Panamanian market and the trend is toward growth, according to the director of Ports of the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP), Roger Barsallo. He was speaking during the Bunkering Forum organized by the Panama Chamber of Shipping.
The growth of terminals on the Atlantic and Pacific is expanding with strategic alliances and development of facilities, said Barsallo.
He said the bunkering activity generates revenue of more than $1.5 billion annually and the expansions are expected to increase transactions in coming years to nearly $2 billion.
The former president and economic consultant, Dr. Nicolas Ardito Barletta, said that with the Panama Canal expansion there will be a captive market for the sale of bunkers and he listed a number of factors that make the business competitive in Panama, such as the petroleum free zones, telecommunications, location of tank farms, and other benefits. However, he said that the rule for international navigation in the waterway slows the sale of bunkers because the ACP applies international standards.
Meanwhile, Silvia Marucci, of the Office of Research and Market Analysis of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) said the container ship segment contributes much more than the rest of the market segments of the canal. She also stressed that there is a close relationship between the sale of bunker and transits through the Panama Canal.
As for the benefits the Canal expansion would bring to the bunkering industry, Maruccii indicated that the expansion of the waterway will increase the competitiveness of oil shipments on the route between Ecuador and the US Gulf.
She said more ships would maximize their cargoes when the Canal is expanded.
The official showed the audience a SWOT analysis of the bunkering industry in Panama highlighting strengths between geographic location, high-draft vessels’ idle timeout, and showing that Panama is a market with competitive prices.
In relation to the weaknesses, Marucci said that the supply barge fleet needs to be renewed and said that there is an opportunity for the industry because traffic growth is expected, particularly of container ships.
Marucci concluded that the threat facing the industry is the growth of competition in neighboring countries.
This post is also available in: Spanish