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Montevideo, April 16th 2024 - 23:55 UTC

 

 

Weather conditions improving for Panama Canal transit but still far from good

Wednesday, March 13th 2024 - 09:50 UTC
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The Panama Canal was run by Washington between 1914 and 1999 The Panama Canal was run by Washington between 1914 and 1999

Recent rains have led the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) to announce an increase in the number of vessels through the interoceanic path from 24 to 27 each day, it was reported. Being the only waterway in the world that uses fresh water to link the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the 80-kilometer Panamanian route carries 6% of the world's maritime trade.

 Starting on March 18, a maximum of 20 ships vessels will be allowed through the waterway via the old locks, while another seven will be admitted to the larger locks from 2016 a week later.

“These measures allow the majority of vessels wishing to transit the Canal to have a better chance of obtaining a reservation,” the ACP said in a statement. The new number of authorizations will remain in effect “until conditions warrant changes,” it added.

The Panama Canal runs on fresh water, which it obtains from the artificial lakes of Gatun and Alhajuela. For every ship that passes through, some 200 million liters of fresh water are discharged into the sea. The lakes have been depleted by the scarcity of rainfall due to the El Niño phenomenon coupled with global warming. The water level in Alhajuela has gone from 204 feet (62 meters) in May 2023, to 236.2 feet (72 meters) on Tuesday. In turn, Gatun rose from 79.2 feet (24.1 meters) in July 2023 to 80.5 (24.5 meters).

Last year was the second driest in the history of the Canal, inaugurated by the United States in 1914. Due to this, the ACP cut down the daily transit of vessels from 39 to 24. In addition, the crossing ships were forced to carry less cargo.

In fiscal year 2023, the Panama Canal had US$ 3.344 billion in revenue from vessel transit and service provision, while up to US$ 700 million less revenue is expected by 2024 due to the restrictive measures.

The Panama Canal built by the United States was run by Washington between 1914 and 1999, when on Dec. 31 it was transferred to Panama.

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