The Panama Canal will increase the maximum allowable draft for Neopanamax vessels after recent rainfall brought the Gatun and Alajuela Lakes to their operating limits.
Effective from December 15 and until further notice, the maximum allowable draft for vessels transiting the Neopanamax locks will be increased to 14.33 m (47.0 feet) Tropical Fresh Water (TFW).
The development comes after two years of below-average rainfall, including one of the strongest El Niño events in the history.
With the expected arrival of the dry season in the next few weeks, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) said it would continue to monitor and manage the water levels of the Gatun and Alajuela Lakes.
As part of its overarching commitment to reducing environmental impact and preserve water resources, the Panama Canal has been implementing a series of preventive water conservation measures in its operations for several months.
These efforts include the stoppage of electricity generation at Gatun hydroelectric plant, the suspension of hydraulic assist procedures at the Panamax locks for deep draft and maximization of tandem lockages – all measures that add to the use of the water-saving basins of the Neopanamax Locks.