Drought Continues To Impact Panama Canal

September 26, 2023

 

Drought Continues To Impact Panama Canal

 

The Panama Canal continues to be impacted by drought, leading to a backlog of ships waiting to pass through the waterway which handles around 5% of world trade.

The current backlog means that at any one time 100-120 vessels are queuing to pass the canal, with an estimated wait time of around 14 days.

Although this is an improvement on August’s spike of 160 vessels in queue and a 21 day wait, the Panama Canal Authority (AMP) has said they may need to cut the maximum number of vessels allowed to pass if the drought continues.

They anticipate that in the absence of significant rain in the coming weeks, the daily passages could be reduced to 30 or 31 from the current restriction of 32.  In normal conditions, 36 ships can make the journey.

The canal is operated by a water supply from two lakes that have witnessed low water levels this year. The country also has restrictions in place to conserve water in the country’s reservoirs.

It is not just shipping through Panama that has been impacted by drought conditions in Latin America, as receding water levels in the Amazon region have led to a historic drought.

Liner services through the mouth of the Madeira River have had draft limitations imposed this month due to low water levels in numerous rivers that make up the Amazon Basin. This situation is also having an impact on services to the port of Manaus.

 

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