The level of Gatun Lake has been falling faster than anticipated, putting pressure on the critical shipping route, despite implementing water-saving measures. In response, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has announced updated maximum draughts for the neo-panamax locks.
The ACP has enforced lower maximum draught of vessels transiting the expanded Panama Canal’s neo-panamax locks due to an ongoing drought. The restrictions were introduced on April 19 and required vessels to reduce weight or restrain the amount of goods onboard.
The interim measure was outlined by officials without a deadline, but they expressed optimism that it might “be lifted as soon as possible” once the Central American rainy season starts.
Effective April 19, 2023, the maximum authorized draught for vessels transiting the neo-panamax locks has been set at 14.48 m (47.5 feet) Tropical Fresh Water (TFW). Further reductions will take effect on April 27, May 5, and May 12, bringing the maximum authorized draught to 14.02 m (46.0 feet) TFW.