Panama Canal postpones depth restrictions following rainfall

Panama Canal postpones depth restrictions following rainfall

The Panama Canal Authority (PCA) has announced that it will postpone depth restrictions that were set to impact the largest ships voyaging across the waterway.

This decision comes after the recent rainfall that has alleviated the pressure on the canal and provided relief for traversing ships.   

On 25 June and 9 July, several measures were set to be enforced on the canal requiring ships to float at higher depths, according to Reuters.

Consequently, ships would have had to carry less cargo and lower their weight, thereby influencing trade at one of the busiest maritime crossings in the world.

The unexpected rainfall comes after an extended period of drought that saw water levels at the canal drop to unprecedented lows.

According to the weather service of Panama, it is anticipated that rainfall will drop to a range between 70 millimetres (2.76 inches) to 80 millimetres (3.15 inches) will occur within the next 72 hours in the basin of the Panama Canal.

In an advisory to customers seen by Reuters, the canal authority stated that Neo-Panamax ships will be able to maintain their previous depth limit of 44.0 feet (13.41 metres), while Panamax ships will be able to operate at a depth of 39.5 feet (12.04 metres).

The administration reported that it would continue to monitor the situation and water levels at the canal, having not specified when the measures would be postponed until.

The canal authority had previously announced an additional tightening of restrictions scheduled for 19 July. This was not mentioned in their client advisory, however, reported Reuters.

READ: Panama Canal imposes depth restrictions amid droughts

The canal has been facing water supply challenges since the beginning of the year when the El Nino weather phenomenon caused record levels of drought.

PCA’s administrator, Ricaurte Vásquez, reported that the canal experienced its driest May since 1950.

In response to the El Nino, the PCA has implemented several measures to curtail the impact of the drought, while maintaining maritime operations in the canal.

Current forecasts for the Panama Canal reveal economic consequences that are beyond circumventing, according to experts, in spite of the PCA’s efforts to mitigate the droughts impact.

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