Canal traffic down - profits up 14.3%

1,572Views 0Comments Posted 06/11/2023


Despite reduced traffic resulting from draft restrictions due to the drought, the Panama Canal increased profits by 14.3% to $2,297 million between January and August of this year.

The increase in profits comes at a point in which the maritime route is going through one of the strongest droughts in recent decades, which led the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) to announce a gradual reduction in the draft, until February 2024.

Draft is the depth that the water reaches in the submerged part of a boat and the maximum capacity of this route is 50 feet, but it has had to be progressively reduced as the drought continues.

The ACP has recorded very positive figures during the first eight months of this year and has improved its profits in every month, compared to the same period of the previous year.

In July of this year,  the maritime route generated profits of $299 million, exceeding 22% of the income obtained during that same period, in 2022.

interannual increase has been most noticed is in small draft vessels, as their number increased by 13.7%, between January and August of this year, compared to the same period of the previous year, going from 932 in 2022, to 1,060 in 2023. A 3.4% reduction was recorded in deep-draft vessels, going from 8,635, between January and August 2022, to 8,340 during the same period of this year.

The reduction in deep draft vessels ended up impacting the volume and net tons of cargo moved through the waterway. Specifically, a reduction of 3.3% and 1.9%, respectively, was recorded between January and August 2022 and 2023.

When analyzing the type of vessels that crossed the route managed by ACP, most of the income came from the Neopanamax vessels, which contributed more than $1,281 million to the total profits obtained during the first eight months of the year. While the Panamaxes provided $1,015 million., An increase can also be observed compared to 2022 when Neopanamax vessels generated $1,123 million and Panamax vessels contributed $885,834 million.

The Canal's administrator, Ricaurter Vásquez Morales, announced in August: “We are planning to transit between 30 and 32 ships per day (in fiscal year 2024), instead of the 36 to 38 ships that we regularly transit, when we have the water capacity,” Last week, the entity announced that from November 3 to 6 the number of reservation places will be reduced to 25. From the 7th to the 30th of this month, it will go to 24   Between December 1 and 13, the number of places will be 20, and, by February 2024, the number will be 18 places per day.

The decision comes at a time when the rainfall recorded in October was the lowest since 1950 and 2023 is shaping up to be the driest year since that date.

The Maritime Chamber of Panama asked the National Government to generate actions to address the water crisis that the route passes through, given that it contributes more than $ 2 billion to the national treasury and multiple sources of direct and indirect employment depend on it.