Further draft restrictions for drought-hit Panama Canal

Chamber of Shipping > Blog > News > International > Further draft restrictions for drought-hit Panama Canal

Due to a drought affecting the Panama Canal, draft restrictions are being implemented, impacting maritime traffic. The Panama Canal Authority has announced two draft restrictions, the first starting May 24th and the second scheduled for the following week. The decreased rainfall has led to a significant drop in water levels, with concerns that Lake Gatun could reach historic lows by July. As a result, neo-Panamax vessels will have reduced drafts, starting at 13.56 meters and eventually decreasing to 13.41 meters. This will result in reduced cargo capacity for some container ships. Several shipping companies have responded to the restrictions by implementing surcharges, while shippers are considering alternative routes, such as the all-water route via the Suez Canal, to reach the US East Coast from Asia. The Panama Canal has faced similar drought challenges since its expansion seven years ago, still, the current dry spell is particularly concerning as meteorologists predict the arrival of El Niño, which typically brings drier conditions to Central America.

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