The Panama Canal announced that as of July 30 and "until further notice" it will lower the daily transit capacity of vessels to 32 "to reduce the possibility of additional draft restrictions in the coming weeks" due to the drought that affects the basin.
The Canal, through which around 3% of world trade passes, maintains a daily transit average of between 35 and 36 ships, according to what the and the measure will result in a reduction of between 3 and 4 ships per day.
In a notice addressed to all shipping agents, owners, and operators, dated Tuesday the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) indicated that the reduced transits will be "normally distributed" as "10 ships in the Neopanamax locks), and 22 ships in the Panamax locks”, which have been operating since 1914 and are smaller.
The ACP clarified that this daily transit capacity "can be further adjusted as deemed necessary, depending on the level of Gatun Lake, weather forecasts, and combination of vessels."
The ACP warned last June that "as an extreme measure", "the decision would have to be made to limit the number of transits" of ships daily to a minimum of 28 vessels.
The ACP "strongly recommended to all customers that they make use" of the transit reservation system "to reduce the possibility of long delays" due to the reduction in daily transits.
It said that these measures are necessary "despite the arrival of the rainy season in the Isthmus and the continuous water saving measures that the ACP has implemented in recent months to mitigate the adverse effects of the prolonged dry season in the Canal Basin”.
"The ACP may implement additional measures and establish additional procedures, in accordance with the safe and efficient operation of the Canal," added the notice to shipping agents, owners, and operators.
In recent months, the Canal has implemented a staggered reduction in draft which, according to a notice issued on June 14, dropped from July 19 to 43 feet (13.11 meters), when the maximum offered by the channel is than 50 feet (15.24 meters).