A shipper has paid nearly $4 million to jump to the front of the line at the congested Panama Canal waterway, a record high.
Japan’s Eneos Group paid $3.975 million in an auction Wednesday to secure the crossing, bidding documents show. That comes on top of the regular transit fees companies pay, which can be hundreds of thousands of dollars more.
“You are getting close to $4.5 million to use the canal, so that is pricing out a lot of ships,” Oystein Kalleklev, chief executive officer of Flex LNG Ltd. and Avance Gas Holding Ltd., said during a conference call Wednesday when asked about the state of the canal.
The Panama Canal Authority confirmed a new record was set in the Nov. 8 auction but didn’t name the auction winner. The vessel will carry liquefied petroleum gas northbound on Nov. 15, the canal’s managing authority said.
Eneos didn’t respond to a request for comment outside of normal business hours.
A queue of ships waiting to use the canal has been growing in recent months amid a deep drought. To manage the situation, the canal’s authority has announced increasingly drastic restrictions for the depleted thoroughfare.
It also lets companies bid on the chance to speed things up. Last month, the Panama Canal Authority held 140 auctions, it said. Three of those came in above $1 million.