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Small ships can exploit enlarged feeder trade once Panama Canal expands

SMALLER players in the post Panama Canal expansion period should go for transshipment opportunities as 13,000-TEU ships transiting the expanded waterway go to main ports, leaving feeders to service lesser ports higher volumes than ever before.

Small ships can exploit enlarged feeder trade once Panama Canal expands
13 December 2011 - 19:46


SMALLER players in the post Panama Canal expansion period should go for transshipment opportunities as 13,000-TEU ships transiting the expanded waterway go to main ports, leaving feeders to service lesser ports higher volumes than ever before.

This is the view of Andre Grikitis, CEO of Intermarine of New Orleans, which has smaller ships dealing with containers and heavy lift cargo, and his CFO Michael Dumas in an interview with gCaptain, a maritime news service based in Fort Lauderdale.

Said Mr Grikitis: "We're talking about the ports that the large containerships will not be going to. Hopefully we can get to do more of that work whether on a direct or transshipment basis."

Said Mr Dumas: "There is going to be a need for transshipment and this will put a greater demand on port facilities in the US and the Gulf area. Greater demand on ports will put a greater demand on labour supply, but will also provide opportunities for us. [The expansion] really doesn't have much direct impact on our ships going through there, or even our competitors, because those ships are small enough where they currently have easy access to the canal.

Said Mr Grikitis: "When Mike talks about our container traffic, we're talking about the ports that the large containerships will not be going to. I think that the opening of the canal will certainly impact the region, and places like Columbia will expand their transshipment activities. That brings other economic development, and we are certainly out looking for the possibilities where we have capacity where we can assign to carrying containers to some of these 'outports'. Again, it's part of our view of the need for us to have a combination of cargoes to continue to be successful. I expect this will have an impact."

Said Mr Dumas: "The most significant impact lies within the bigger containerships as the 12 to 13,000 TEU will now be able to pass through. The super 18k TEU ships will not be able to pass through, but with these larger containerships going through, they'll move to the east coast and the Gulf region which will have an impact on the ports in those places.

"It will have an impact on ancillary businesses within the container front, and within the port facilities. There are already several ports that are trying to determine how they are going to react to this canal expansion, both in the US and other countries such as Trinidad," Mr Dumas said.

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