Expansion of daily transit slots on Panama Canal as water levels increase

Several freighters, assisted by tugboats, are entering the Panama Canal at Gatun Locks on the Atlantic side.
The Panama Canal Authority announced increased daily transit slots in the older Panamax locks to meet rising demand and water level challenges. Additional slots will be available for auction starting March 18th, boosting daily transits to 27. Measures will be maintained to adapt to changing water conditions for efficient maritime trade.
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The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has announced an increase in the number of daily transit slots in the older Panamax locks due to current and expected water levels in Lake Gatun and increased demand for slots. Starting from March 18th, two more Panamax slots will be available for auction, with another slot being added on March 25th, bringing the total daily transits to 27, compared to the normal 36 slots available. The aim of this increase is to improve the chances for ships to secure a reservation for passage through the canal.

In 2023, low water levels in Lake Gatun led to the reduction of the canal’s capacity through daily transit and draft restrictions for freshwater conservation. However, above-average rainfall in November and December allowed the ACP to maintain 24 daily transits instead of reducing them to 18 as planned for February. The upcoming shift from El Niño to La Niña is expected to bring above-average rainfall this summer, and Panama Canal officials will continue to monitor the water situation and maintain the current measures.

The ACP’s dedication to improving efficiency and responsiveness to the maritime industry’s changing needs is reflected in the introduction of additional transit slots. With the goal of maintaining the Panama Canal’s status as a leading global trade route, the ACP’s measure to increase daily transits is a step towards meeting the increased demand while ensuring efficient passage through the canal. The authority is committed to adapting to changing conditions and ensuring smooth operations through the canal.

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