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Panama Canal: More transits from mid-January

Caption: © ACP

The canal authority ACP is slightly increasing the number of daily trips through the Panama Canal again from January.

Currently, 22 ships are handled daily at the Atlantic and Pacific locks, six of which are Neopanamax ships and 16 Panamax ships. This restriction is in response to the challenges posed by the current water level of Lake Gatun, which is unusually low for this time of year due to the drought caused by the El Niño phenomenon. [ds_preview]

October 2023 was the driest October on record for the canal catchment area. In anticipation of a possible worsening of the situation in November and December, it was decided to adjust the number of daily crossings to 22 in December, 20 in January and 18 in February. This year, for the first time, the canal was forced to restrict the number of passages. This leads to long waiting times in front of the locks, which is why some shipping companies avoid the canal and take detours. The container liner alliance THE Alliance recently announced corresponding adjustments to its timetables.

However, as the rainfall and water levels in the lakes in November were less unfavorable than expected and the canal’s water-saving measures led to positive results, the passage figures are now being adjusted again. Accordingly, seven Neopanamax and 17 Panamax ships will be allowed to navigate the canal from January, making a total of 24 ships a day. In normal years, 36 daily transits are planned for January.

In addition, 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 will give the majority of vessels wishing to transit the canal a better chance of obtaining a reservation, according to the canal authority ACP.

“The canal experts are closely monitoring the current water crisis and the measures announced today, published in the notices to skippers, will come into force on January 16, 2024 and will remain in force until conditions warrant changes, which will be announced in good time,” it said.

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