Panama Canal will increase daily ship transit

Canal de Panamá

Inspenet, December 18, 2023.

The Panama Canal has announced that starting in January it will increase the number of daily transits to 24 , for the benefit of its customers. Currently, the transit of 22 ships per day is allowed, distributed in 6 neopanamax and 16 panamax, as a restrictive measure due to the situation of Gatun Lake, which has unprecedented minimum levels, a product of the drought caused by the El Niño Phenomenon. .

It is worth remembering that last October marked the driest period in the history of the Canal Basin. Anticipating the possibility of a worsening in November and December, it has been decided to gradually adjust the number of daily transits to 24 in November, 22 in December, 20 in January and 18 in February.

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However, given the November rains that turned out to be less deficient than those in October, together with the positive results derived from the water saving measures and restrictions applied, the announced adjustment will replace the Notice to Shipping Companies A-48-2023 issued on October 30.

Additionally, the Panama Canal will establish a limit of one reservation per customer per date , with some exceptions, for the places offered to ships that participate through the reservation system. According to the ACP, these measures will allow the majority of vessels interested in transit to have a better opportunity to obtain a reservation.

It should be noted that Canal experts are closely monitoring the current water crisis, so the measures announced in the Notice to Shipping Companies will come into effect on January 16, 2024 and will remain in force until any condition is presented that justifies changes. . The canal authority explained that any modification will be communicated in a timely manner.

The situation of the Panama Canal

The year 2023 is ranked as the second driest in recorded history in the Panama Canal Hydrographic Basin. Given the lack of rainfall and the resulting decrease in lake levels, the Canal has implemented an operational strategy focused on water conservation and ensuring transit reliability.

In the Canal lake system, composed of Gatún and Alhajuela, water is stored mainly for supplying the population and to ensure the Canal’s operations. In addition, it is used for various purposes such as generating electrical energy and supporting national economic activities.

This system provides the water necessary for the treatment and supply of more than 50% of the Panamanian population, residing in the districts of Panama, San Miguelito, Arraiján, Chorrera and Colón. Currently, eight treatment plants draw water from the Gatún reservoir, with two additional ones under construction. On the other hand, the Federico Guardia Conte water treatment plant, the largest in the country, extracts water from the Alhajuela reservoir.

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