Opportunites for improved efficiency and reduced co2 emissions in dry bulk shipping stemming from the relaxation of the panamax beam constraint (2011)

Author(s): Stott PW, Wright PNH

    Abstract: In 2014 the Panama Canal Authority is scheduled to bring into commission new locks that will eliminate the long standing Panamax beam constraint of 32.2m. The expansion of the canal is aimed at increased capacity for container transits but will clearly have consequences for all types of vessel. There is an emerging demand for dry bulk carriers that are larger than the current Panamax limit of around 85,000 dwt but smaller than the Capesize class of around 160,000 dwt and the expansion of the canal will facilitate this development. Larger vessels will permit economies of scale and greater efficiency in the dry bulk shipping sector compared to what is currently possible with conventional Panamax ships. The relaxation of the constraint will additionally permit the development of more efficient hull forms than is possible within the existing beam constraint and the expansion of the Panama Canal’s locks will therefore (eventually) contribute directly to the reduction of carbon produced by dry bulk shipping. The constraint currently applies to about 36% of dry bulk carrier capacity, which could benefit in terms of carbon reduction. The use of the Panamax constraint is far wider than the dry bulk sector, however, and the potential for reduction in carbon emissions by hull form optimisation, for other sectors currently constrained to 32.2m beam, is recommended for further study to evaluate the total carbon reduction 'windfall' that could result from the expansion of the Canal.

      • Date: 01-10-2011
      • Journal: Transactions A: International Journal of Maritime Engineering
      • Volume: 153
      • Issue: A4
      • Pages: A215-A229
      • Publisher: Royal Institution of Naval Architects
      • Publication type: Article
      • Bibliographic status: Published

      Keywords: Panamax, Carbon, Canal, bulk shipping, Panamax Canal Expansion


      Paul Stott
      Senior Lecturer