The squeeze at the Panama Canal is getting tighter. Officials are cutting available slots for ship transits by half this winter as a drought that has already triggered lengthy backups gets even worse.
The WSJ’s Costas Paris says the latest changes come after Panama experienced its driest October on record, extending a months long spell of warmer temperatures and low rainfall.
The canal administration said daily reservation slots will be cut to 25 this month, 22 in December, 20 in January and 18 in February. Last month the canal had 32 daily transits.
The waterway can normally handle an average of 40 transits a day. Authorities say about 98 vessels are waiting to cross at both sides of the canal.
Container ships that have fixed schedules and booked slots months in advance aren’t facing serious delays, but crude and gas tankers calling on short notice can be trapped for weeks.
Iage credit: The Maersk Bogor containership enters the Miraflores locks at the Panama Canal in September. PHOTO: JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES