Rain forecast expected to ease Panama Canal restrictions

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After enduring a drought exacerbated by El Niño, causing disruptions for nearly a year, the Panama Canal is seeing a resurgence in shipping optimism as forecasts predict significant rainfall. This drought led to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) reducing daily transits and draft levels since May of the previous year, pushing many ships to bypass the canal due to long queues and increased tolls. The situation was further complicated by security concerns in the Suez Canal area, prompting some ships to seek alternative routes. Recently, the ACP increased the number of daily transit slots, signaling an improvement in conditions. Maersk has also announced the resumption of its OC1 service through the canal, indicating confidence in the canal’s returning functionality. The rainy season’s arrival is expected to further ameliorate water levels, with the ACP projecting significant increases in Gatun Lake’s water depth by the end of May. This comes as a relief after transits dropped by a third and the queue of ships waiting to transit peaked at over 160 last August, highlighting the canal’s critical role in global trade.

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