Panama canal imposes drought restrictions

After a severe drought affecting the Panama Canal, the Canal is forcing container vessels to lighten their loads in order to reduce their draft.

According to international news, the largest vessels will have to reduce their drafts as of May 24 by carrying less or reducing the weight of their goods. In reaction to the canal limitations, some major ocean carriers have announced extra charges for commodities delivered on the route beginning June.

Starting May 24, Neo-Panamax vessels will be limited to draughts of up to 13.56 meters down from an already restricted 13.71 meters. The draught limit will again be reduced to 13.41 meters on May 30.

These limits are in place because rainfall surrounding the canal and the lakes that feed it was less than half of the normal amount the previous months. Scientists are not optimistic that the typical early summer rains will occur this year. On the contrary, they are concerned that the water depths in Lake Gatun, which is located in the canal’s center, may reach historic lows by July.

The Canal is crucial for shipping and world-wide trade as it connects over 144 routes and serves 1,700 ports in 160 nations. It has altered world trade patterns and served as a main incentive for economic progress in many remote areas of the world by offering a short conduit between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.


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