New Solutions For The Improving Panama Canal

June 19, 2024
New Solutions For The Improving Panama Canal

 

It has been over a year since the Panama Canal has been severely affected by drought and restrictions to its daily vessel passages, but as it returns to almost full capacity, the Panama Canal Authority (PCA) are weighing-up long-term solutions to bolster the shipping route’s resilience.

The PCA has confirmed that from 22nd July the maximum number of daily transits will return to 34, which is on the low end of the 34-38 average daily journeys in normal conditions. The current limit is 32, but at the worst point of the crisis there were only 20 transits allowed per day, which led to major congestion and delays.

One solution being explored is a new reservoir, which would provide capacity for an additional 11 transits. However, construction of the reservoir would need support from government and nearby communities, therefore the projects chances of getting the go-ahead are currently unknown and construction is expected to take four to five years.

In the meantime, the PCA is understood to be making the pre-booking system, employed during the crisis, a permanent fixture. Prior to the drought, an estimated 70% of transits were booked in advance, but the PCA believe its full use has enhanced the canal’s reliability and reduced waiting times by around 10 hours.    

The pre-booking system has also resulted in tangible environmental benefits through reduced vessel idling and therefore lower carbon emissions. The PCA’s canal administrator recently stated “As we aim for lasting operational improvements, our goal is to make this reservation system more permanent, even as transit volumes begin to normalise, to further enhance the canal’s reliability.” 

 

 

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