The consequence over the past month and a half: transit delays.
The good news for containerized cargo shippers is that container lines have reserved booking slots. The delays are affecting ships without reservations.
The good news for LNG and LPG shipowners is that delays are actually a tailwind for returns. Every day a bulk-cargo ship is stuck waiting at anchorage off Panama is a day less it can vie for spot contracts at the end of its voyage. Less competition equals higher rates.
Panama Canal congestion is also spurring more LNG and LPG carriers to take the long route to Asia around the Cape of Good Hope. Longer voyages soak up more vessel capacity, another plus for rates.
What's causing the delays?
During the latest conference call of Oslo-listed BW LPG, the company's executive vice-president, Pontus Berg, attributed delays to bad weather, high traffic and "partly … to COVID."