The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) notified shippers on Wednesday that it will extend the Aug. 8-21 restrictions for vessels to transit through the waterway to Sept. 2, keeping the number of vessels authorized to pass per day to a maximum of 32.
The Panama Canal has been successively enforcing draft restrictions since late April due to declining water levels. The draft at the Panamax locks is unchanged at its normal 39.5 feet, but at the neo-Panamax locks, where large containerships transit, the draft has shallowed to 44 feet from its normal 50 feet. In addition, the number of vessels authorized to pass through the canal has been reduced since late July. Normally, a total of 36 vessels are authorized per day—10 at the Panamax locks and 26 at the neo-Panamax locks. The number was, however, lowered to 32 on July 30—10 at the Panamax locks and 22 at the neo-Panamax locks. As of Aug. 8, the canal allows up to 14 daily reservations to pass through the Panamax locks, , and 10 daily transits for the neo-Panamax locks. Vessels that arrive without reservation have access to the remaining eight passage slots per day. Extraordinary auctions for transit slots in both locks will remain suspended through Sept. 2.
The average number of vessels transiting the Panama canal per day was 33 in July, which declined 9% from a year earlier owing to the draft restrictions, according to Clarkson Research. The weekly average was 225 vessels per week on Aug. 4, or approximately 32 per day, which has shrunken 7% since the beginning of the year. The total amount of shipping capacity of containerships waiting in line for passing through the Panama Canal was some 130,000 TEUs on July 28 and 102,000 TEUs on Aug. 8, both of which were much greater than the daily average of 81,000 TEUs in June, which corresponds the annual average.




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