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Focus on Panama

Panama Canal increases draught ahead of schedule

Photo: ACP Vessels transiting Panamax locks at the Panama Canal
The Panama Canal Authority is increasing the draught of the key waterway as a severe drought subsides.

The Authority said will increase the maximum authorised draught to 13.71 metres (45 feet) effective from 30 May.

This adjustment, originally scheduled to take effect on 15 June, is being implemented earlier due to the expected onset of the rainy season in the Panama Canal Watershed and the current and projected levels of Gatun Lake over the coming weeks.

The Panama Canal is slowly returning to normal operations after over a year of restrictions due to a severe drought.

Since May 16, the number of daily transits in the Panamax locks had increased from 17 to 24, and starting June 1, the number of daily transits in the Neopanamax locks will increase from 7 to 8. This adjustment will raise the total number of vessel transits per day to 32, boosting the Canal’s capacity.

Since 26 May, the water levels of Gatun and Alhajuela Lakes have, for the first time in 2024, risen above those recorded on the same date in 2023, due to the onset of the rainy season.

The Panama Canal monitors the existing weather conditions on a daily basis to implement the necessary operational actions in response to the increased inflows to the watershed.