We at MoreThanShipping.com recently reported that the Panama Canal was suffering from extreme drought conditions that were making shipping challenging overall. We reported on some limits the canal was considering. Now, considerations have turned into reality with further restrictions put in place until at least next week.
Now, the Panama Canal is facing even more dire drought conditions that are disrupting shipping, with restrictions having been put into place.
After a drought started and intensified over the past month, the Panama Canal zone now faces major disruptions for ships trying to pass through the strategic waterway. What started as scattered and sporadic disruptions has turned onto outright delays.
There are now long waits for ships that want to pass through the Panama Canal. Simply put, with the drought, the canal’s capacity has dwindled. As a result of the delays, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) – which governs the canal and its operations – has started to impose limits and restrictions on how many vessels can traverse the canal in a given amount of time.
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has called the delays and challenges “unprecedented” and is struggling to find a solution that accepts the reality of drought conditions will allowing vessel movement as close to normal as possible. Last month, the governing authority reduced the number of ships that can traverse the canal in a day by 4, down to 32. There is a backlog of ships waiting to enter. Further restrictions might be possible if drought conditions worsen.
A depth restriction also applies at the present time.
In addition to those limits, there is also a maximum depth restriction that went into effect a few weeks back, as we previously reported. That limits how deep vessels can be when traveling and limits overall movement/speed/etc. depending on local conditions.
At the moment, if conditions approve, all restrictions might be rolled back by August 21st, which is in less than a week. However, time will tell.