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Panama Canal Authority tells Reu...

Panama Canal Authority tells Reuters transit slots won’t be reduced further until April
Photo credits @ Panama Canal

Panama Canal Authority tells Reuters transit slots won’t be reduced further until April

Panama Canal transits will not be further reduced due to drought, at least until April, Ilya Espino, deputy administrator of the Panama Canal Authority, told Reuters. 

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Pölös Zsófia

Pölös Zsófia

Journalist Trans.info

09.02.2024

Panama Canal transits will not be further reduced due to drought, at least until April, Ilya Espino, deputy administrator of the Panama Canal Authority, told Reuters. 

Panama Canal Authority tells Reuters transit slots won’t be reduced further until April
Photo credits @ Panama Canal

Espino added that the assessment will be re-evaluated in April in the hope that expected rains in May will allow the current 24 daily transits to be increased to 36.

However, if there’s no rain in May, the authority would consider „reducing the number of transits by one or two vessels per day or reducing the maximum draft of vessels to 43 feet,” the authority’s representative told Reuters.

The Panama Canal is a vital conduit that significantly reduces the time and distance for ships travelling between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It operates around the clock, every day of the year, with an annual usage of approximately 13,000 to 14,000 ships, according to the Canal Authority.

As previously reported by Trans.iNFO, the water shortage problem has been attributed to the natural El Niño climate pattern, which is characterised by warmer-than-usual waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific, exacerbating drought conditions in Panama.

Gatun Lake, which serves as the primary water source for the canal’s lock system, is experiencing an unprecedented drop in water levels for this time of year, according to the ACP.

As of 3 November, the number of booking slots will be reduced from an already limited 31 per day to 25 per day, the ACP said. This reduction was planned until February 2024, with the possibility of reaching a daily slot allocation of 18 vessels. Fortunately, the situation has improved and the reduction has been halted at 24 slots.

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