The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has announced further restrictions across the canal due to the greatest drought in over 70 years, leading to a reduction in the number of ships using the passage.
Due to the ongoing effects of the El Niño phenomenon, the water supply has decreased in the reservoir system of the Panama Canal.
According to the ACP, the month of October has been the driest since the earliest registers 73 years ago.
Booking slots will be decreased from the current 31 per day to 25 starting on November 3 and will be slashed further in the upcoming months, hitting 18 slots by February 2024.
The ACP emphasised the results in an official statement: “In October 2023, there has been 41% less rainfall than usual, lowering Gatun Lake to unprecedented levels for this time of year.
“Therefore, with less than two months left until the end of the rainy season, the canal and the country face the challenge of the upcoming dry season with a minimum water reserve that must guarantee supply for more than 50% of the population and, at the same time, maintain the operations of the interoceanic waterway.”
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The cuts, which have already caused long delays, could increase the cost of shipping goods around the world.
The Panama Canal stands as one of the world’s largest shipping routes, facilitating 180 maritime routes and serving 170 countries.
As previously reported, this comes on the back of a statement by the authority in August 2023 claiming that restrictions through the Panama Canal are expected to remain for at least ten months.
The restrictions were previously extended by the authority back in July when officials said that they would limit passage to 32 ships per day at a maximum depth of 44 feet.