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Panama Canal planning to increase daily transits

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Dry Bulk,

Through Advisory to Shipping No. A-54-2023, the Panama Canal announced that it will increase the number of daily transits to 24 starting in January, for the benefit of its customers.

At present, 22 vessels transit daily, divided into six neopanamax and 16 panamax locks. The restriction was in response to the challenges posed by the state of Gatun Lake, which has been experiencing unusually low water levels for the winter season due to the drought induced by the El Niño phenomenon.

October 2023 marked the driest October on record for the Canal Watershed. In anticipation of a potential worsening of the situation in November and December, the decision was made to adjust the number of daily transits to 22 in December, 20 in January, and 18 in February. 2023 marked the first time the Canal has ever had to restrict transits.

However, as rainfall and lake levels for November proved to be less adverse than expected, coupled with the positive outcomes from the Canal’s water-saving measures, the announced adjustments will replace the Advisory to Shipping No. A-48-2023 of 30 October.

Additionally, the Panama Canal will allow one booking slot per customer per date, with some exceptions for quotas offered to vessels competing through the reservation system.

These measures allow the majority of vessels that want to transit the Canal to have a better chance of obtaining a reservation.

Canal specialists are closely monitoring the current water crisis, and the measures will go into effect 16 January 2024, and remain in effect until conditions warrant changes, which will be announced in a timely manner.

As 2023 is the second driest year in recorded history of the Panama Canal Watershed, the Canal has implemented an operational strategy focused on water conservation and transit reliability in the face of low rainfall and the consequent decrease in lake levels.

These measures, together with direct and proactive communication with customers, have proven essential in adapting to the difficult climatic circumstances.

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