Panama Canal postpones depth restrictions after much-needed rain Ship’s crew

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) – The Panama Canal will postpone depth restrictions that should affect the largest ships crossing the vital waterway, the Canal Authority said after much-needed rains brought relief to the strained sea passage.

On June 25 and July 9, a series of measures were due to come into force that would require ships to swim at greater depths, meaning they would have to carry less cargo or otherwise lose weight, which would affect trade one of the busiest commercial hubs in the world.

The rainy season in Panama only slowly brought relief from the months of drought. However, according to the country’s weather service, between 70 mm (2.76 in) and 80 mm (3.15 in) of precipitation is expected to enter the Panama Canal basin over the next 72 hours.

Neo-Panamax vessels can continue to sail at the previous depth limit of 44.0 feet (13.41 m) and Panamax vessels can move to 39.5 feet (12.04 m), the canal authority said in a note to customers Reuters available.

The administration did not say when the measures would be postponed but said it would continue to monitor water levels and “will give timely notice of future design adjustments”.

Previously, the Canal Authority had announced a further tightening for July 19 but failed to mention it in its notice to customers. Officials did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for clarification.

Since the beginning of the year, the canal had imposed a series of depth restrictions as a drought caused by the El Niño weather phenomenon had put pressure on the water supply.

(Reporting by Eli Moreno; Text by Kylie Madry; Editing by Diane Craft)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2023.

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