Clean Ships Jump the Queue at Panama Canal

Published Nov 1, 2016 12:00 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Monday, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) unveiled a new recognition program for clean operators that will help them to get ahead of the pack for transit bookings. 

"We’re rewarding those who make conscious efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and invest in technology that will make shipping even more efficient,” says Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano.

The ACP calls the new system "Environmental Premium Ranking." The Canal has an existing ranking system for customers which it uses when figuring out bookings for transits, based in part on how often a vessel operator uses the canal.  

The new system gives two levels of extra recognition to clean ships, with many ways of qualifying. Vessels with EEDI efficiency numbers 20 percent below baseline get Level 1; 30 percent below baseline, Level 2. There are similar provisions for the Environmental Ship Index and for NOx emissions, and any vessel with an LNG-fueled engine qualifies for Level 2 – giving LNG carriers an automatic leg up. 

Vessels that qualify for Level 1 will receive an additional 10 percentage points for each transit through the Canal towards their overall customer ranking, and vessels that qualify for Level 2 will receive an additional 20 percentage points per transit to improve their rank. 

Documentation and participation papers must be sent in four days in advance of arrival. The incentives system will take effect January 1. 

Environmental incentive programs are becoming increasingly common – often via third party certification schemes like Green Award, which connects inspected and certified ships with eco-minded ports and suppliers. Green Award-labeled ships may be eligible for a range of discounts, like 24 percent off harbor dues at Port Metro Vancouver, 10 percent off equipment and services from JRC / Alphatron, and three percent off of annual tonnage tax at the Liberian Registry.