Gallery: Expanded Panama Canal Opens Its Locks

With the first commercial transit of the USD 5.25 billion Expanded Panama Canal the Neopanamax containership COSCO Shipping Panama launched the long-awaited inauguration of the waterway.

The inaugural transit began with the passage of Neopanamax vessel COSCO Shipping Panama through the Agua Clara Locks on the Atlantic side of the country and concluded with its transit through the Cocoli Locks on the Pacific side. The ship, which left the Greek Port of Piraeus on June 11, is en route to Asia.

Originally named Andronikos, the vessel was renamed by China COSCO Shipping as it was selected during a draw for the inaugural transit through the expanded waterway.

The Expanded Panama Canal is now officially open for business, and the regular schedule of transits through the canal is expected to start on June 27.

“More than 100 years ago, the Panama Canal connected two oceans. Today, we connect the present and the future,” Panama Canal Administrator and CEO Jorge L. Quijano, said, adding that “this is the beginning of a new era.”

Quijano further said that there are currently “170 reservations for Neopanamax ships, commitments of two new liner services to the Expanded Canal, and a reservation for the first LNG vessel, which will transit in late July.”

The Expansion Program is the canal’s largest enhancement project. It included the construction of a new set of locks on the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the waterway and the excavation of more than 150 million cubic meters of material, creating a second lane of traffic and doubling the cargo capacity of the waterway.

While the expanded locks are 70 feet wider and 18 feet deeper than those in the original canal, they use less water due to water-savings basins that recycle 60 percent of the water used per transit.

The expanded canal is expected to reshape global shipping routes, increasing shipping traffic to the U.S. East Coast.

World Maritime News earlier spoke to a representative from the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), Argelis Moreno De Ducreux, Executive Vice-President for Planning and Business Development, Liner Segment, to find out more on the expected impact of the new canal on the shipping industry.

De Ducreux said that the expansion of the Panama Canal is already having an impact on the maritime industry, and it is expected to shift the trade patterns of entire nations.

“Shipping lines, port facilities, rails and distribution centers from different regions are getting ready to take advantage of the larger and more efficient ships. Shipping lines are getting bigger in their fleet composition and the canal expansion will allow them to deploy those larger vessels through the waterway. Furthermore, ports in the East and Gulf Coast of the United States, some of which serve vessels up to 9,000 TEU, are adapting their infrastructure to allow even larger ships to come ashore,”she said.

“Ports in the East and West Coasts of Central and South America are preparing to also increase their share of the commercial trade by taking advantage of the widening of the Panama Canal,” De Ducreux added.

At the beginning of June, the Panama Canal’s contracted vessel, the 2011-built Neopanamax dry bulk carrier MN Baroque, started performing lockages through the expanded locks for testing and training purposes, scheduled to last for 30 days.

The lockages are testing the integration of the gates, their opening and closing capabilities as well as the valve opening and closing through the controls system.

The Panama Canal Expansion Inauguration ceremony will serve as the official inauguration of the two new lock complexes, Agua Clara (Atlantic side) and Cocoli (Pacific side), and their access channels.

McDermott lands contract from Pemex for new Abkatun platform

Houston-based oil industry service provider McDermott International has landed a $454m contract from Mexico’s state oil firm Pemex to work on a platform project in the Gulf of Mexico.

NYSE-listed McDermott will provide engineering, procurement, construction and installation (EPCI) services on the Abkatun-A2 platform to be located in the Bay of Campeche and it will be the company’s largest project yet for Pemex.

McDermott, which saw off rival bids from Spain’s Dragados Offshore and Mexico’s Cisco, expects to use its Altamira fabrication yard in Mexico.

Abkatun-A2 is needed to replace a platform that was destroyed in a catastrophic fatal fire last April. The blaze on the Abkatun-A Permanente platform killed seven workers (although the bodies of three of them were never recovered).

This is the latest in a series of commissions McDermott has won from Pemex.

The platform is scheduled to be completed and handed over to Pemex by the fourth quarter of 2018.

Great Eastern buys cape

Brokers report that Japan’s Libera Corp has sold its capesize Cape Althea (179,300 dwt, built 2011) to Great Eastern Shipping of India.

The Korean-build cape was sold for $24m and is on long-term charter to K Line, brokers say.

Earlier this week, a report from shipbroker Galbraith’s said five parties inspected the five-year-old vessel in Singapore recently.

The unit was originally contracted by K Line but resold to clients of Libera and combined with a long-term charter to K Line, Galbraith’s said.

The vessel’s owners and charterers have mutually agreed to the sale, the report added.

The reported price is a slight advance on the price of three five-year-old, Korean-built capes sold in late May.

Turkey’s Besiktas Likid Tasimacilik sold sisterships Besiktas and Besiktas Turkmenistan (both 179,800 dwt) to Winning Alliance for $23.75m each.

HMM received $22.2m for Hyundai Trust (179,000 dwt, built 2011), which was sold to Greece’s Marmaras Navigation.

POSH wins support contract for Shell’s Prelude

PACC Offshore Services Holdings (POSH) has won a contract from Technip Oceania to deploy its semi-submersible accommodation vessel POSH Arcadia to support Shell’s floating LNG facility Prelude.

POSH Arcadia will provide accommodation support for up to 750 people during the hook-up and commissioning phase of the Shell Prelude FLNG Project in the Browse Basin, off the north-west coast of Western Australia.

In January, POSH’s joint venture with Singapore’s Terasea was appointed to provide towage and positioning services at the Prelude facility (pictured).

SapuraKencana awarded host of new contracts

SapuraKencana has announced that subsidiaries within the SapuraKencana Group have been awarded new contracts and extensions with a combined value of around $125m.

SapuraKencana Drilling Tioman has been awarded a contract by JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration for the provision of semi-submersible drilling rig SKD Berani for a drilling campaign offshore Malaysia with total duration of 150 days as minimum. The contract is expected to commence by July 2016.

SapuraKencana Drilling Jaya has accepted an extension to its contract with BP Trinidad & Tobago to extend its drilling rig SKD Jaya for an additional one well for approximately 45 days and additional work on an existing well for approximately 60 days.

SapuraKencana HL has been awarded a contract by BASF Petronas Chemicals for the procurement, fabrication, construction, installation and pre-commissioning work for infrastructure and utility upgrading projects. It has been awarded a contract by Selex ES Malaysia for the provision of front end engineering design (FEED) & engineering, procurement, construction, installation and commissioning (EPCIC) of the radio shortwave support system (RS3) Project for Petronas Offshore Facilities off the West Coast of Sabah.

Lastly, SapuraKencana Australia has been awarded a contract by Woodside Energy Julimar for phases of the Balnaves Decommissioning project in the Balnaves field which is located offshore North-West Australia, and it also has been awarded a light well intervention contract on call-off basis by Shell Australia.

Jinhui Shipping offloads supramax to Al Khalejia Aggregates

Jinhui Shipping and Transportation Limited has confirmed the sale of 2000-built supramax Jin An to UAE-based Al Khalejia Aggregates for $3.4m.

Delivery of the 50,786dwt vessel is scheduled for between July 15 and and August 31, with Jinhui expecting to book in a loss of around $4m on the sale.

Jinhui cited the prevailing market conditions as the reason for the sale, which will help enhance its working capital position and strengthen liquidity. Last month the company revealed it had initiated restructuring arrangement discussions with lenders, with an update due this month.

The Hong Kong-headquartered company owns a fleet of over 30 bulkers, mostly supramaxes.

V.Ships Offshore to manage Milaha liftboat

V.Ships Offshore has been awarded a new contract by Qatar’s Milaha Offshore to manage self-propelled jack-up liftboat Milaha Explorer.

V.Ships will provide, via its Bibby Ship Management office in Singapore, full technical and crew management services for the liftboat which can accommodate 300 people.

Arvind Mohan, general manager V.Ships Offshore Singapore operation said: “This is the first liftboat owned by Milaha Offshore and we are pleased that our previous experience of managing these types of specialised vessels has been recognised.”

Milaha Explorer will be deployed with an initial crew of 15 in support of field maintenance efforts.

Egypt seeks a third FSRU

Egyptian Natural Gas Holdings (EGAS) will launch a global tender this week to charter for five years a third FSRU with a capacity of 750m cu ft of gas per day as the nation fights severe power shortages.

Hoegh and BW are already contracted to supply two FSRUs to the country.

The third FSRU will join the existing two moored at Ain Sokhna.

Total strips Maersk Oil of its rights to Qatar’s largest oil field

Maersk Oil is beating a retreat from Qatar. The Danish firm has lost out in a bid to extend its rights in the Al Shaheen oil field, its 25-year contract there expiring in one year’s time. The oil field, developed with Qatar Petroleum, is the largest in the Middle Eastern country. France’s Total beat out six other bidders to win the rights for the next 25 years, taking a 30% stake in the field.

“Maersk Oil presented a highly competitive technical and commercial proposition based on more than 20 years of technical knowledge and experience working with the Al Shaheen field,” said Maersk Oil CEO, Jakob Thomasen.

Maersk Oil will be redeploying a number of its employees which today are based in Qatar elsewhere in its global organisation. The majority of remaining employees in Qatar are expected to be offered employment by the new operator, the Danish company said in a release.

Maersk Oil has announced a number of redundancies this year as well as plans to pull back from a number of oil fields around the world.

Meanwhile, Total’s CEO Patrick Pouyanne said in Doha today: “We have a plan to invest for five years 2017-2022, more than $2 billion in that field in order to integrate technology. Our first objective is to maintain 300,000 barrels a day. Currently that’s not a given as there’s a natural decline (in production) as its a complex field.”

Aban Offshore secures ONGC drillship contract

India’s Aban Offshore has announced that a subsidiary of the company has received a firm letter of award from Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).

Under the agreement, Aban Offshore will deploy it drillship Aban Abraham for a firm period of 2 years from the fourth quarter of 2016.

The expected revenues from the contract is about $87m.