26 Jul Panama Canal introduces new restrictions in wake of worsening drought
Severe drought conditions affecting the Panama Canal is forcing container vessels to lighten their loads and pay higher fees, with further increases in the cost of shipping cargo through the canal expected this summer.
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has stated it will progressively decrease the maximum draught in the Neopanamax locks to 13.11 metres (43 ft) from 19 July, in response to the country’s drought, which has reduced the water level of the artificial lakes that feed the waterway.
The maximum draught offered by the canal expansion is 15.24 metres (50 ft) in normal conditions meaning that if conditions do not improve by 19 July maximum draught will have been reduced by over two metres.
The ACP has also indicated that as monitoring of the drought situation continues, future changes or restrictions around draft adjustments and daily transit numbers in the water way (with a potential decrease from 36 to 28 vessels) will be announced as required, which may result in higher shipping rates and a push by carriers to find faster routes.