The Panama Canal is seeing a recovery in its freshwater reservoirs, allowing the canal’s operator, the Panama Canal Authority, to let more large ships pass through. Starting in August, the Panama Canal Authority will add an extra slot for the largest ships, called neo-Panamax vessels, so that nine of these ships can pass through each day. In the last week of July, they will also add a slot for slightly smaller super-Panamax ships, bringing their daily total to 19. Overall, the Panama Canal will handle 35 ships daily starting in August, up from 24 at the beginning of May. This increase follows a drought that started in mid-2023, which lowered water levels in Gatun Lake, the main water source for the canal. Because of the drought, the Panama Canal Authority had to reduce the number of daily ship transits to as few as 18 last October, causing many carriers to avoid the canal. Fortunately, recent rains have refilled Gatun Lake to about 83 feet, the average level for July over the past five years. With better water levels, carriers are starting to use the canal again. The Panama Canal Authority has also lifted some restrictions on neo-Panamax vessels, allowing ships with a 48-foot draft to pass through, up from the 45-foot limit during the drought. This change lets these large ships carry more cargo, making the canal more efficient.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us at Radius International.

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