The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has decreased the maximum allowable draft for vessels transiting the Neopanamax locks at the beginning of January.
Precipitation registered in the Panama Canal watershed during December 2018 was around 90 percent below the historical average, causing water levels in Gatun and Madden Lakes to drop below the expected levels for this time of the year.
As a result, the Panama Canal has deemed it necessary to implement water conservation measures to delay implementation of seasonal draft adjustments and to minimize the adverse effect that these may.
Despite these efforts, the weather forecast for the upcoming weeks indicates that the first seasonal draft of 14.94 meters (49 feet) TFW is required effective February 11, 2019, for vessels transiting the Neopanamax locks.
The authority said that vessels arriving with drafts over 14.94 meters (49.0 feet) TFW may be allowed to transit past this date depending on the actual level of Gatun Lake at the time of transit. Otherwise, they will be required to trim or off-load cargo to transit.