Panama Canal troubles are impacting all shipping segments

Shipping companies continue to be hit hard by the ongoing congestion brought about by drought and subsequent draft and transit restrictions put in place by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP). The number of vessels in queue for transit across the Panama Canal stood at 128 ships this weekend; some 42% above the 90 average, but 21% below the figure a month ago. Ships desperate to get to their destinations have been forking out record sums to barge past the armada of merchant ships at both ends of the waterway.

In a sign that the authorities are confident that the worst of the congestion has passed, the ACP has decided to rescind booking condition 3 for its panamax locks, moving back to a more regular booking condition 1.a as of yesterday. Nevertheless, shipping is having to contend with the fact that draft and transit restrictions are here to stay at least through until the end of the first half of next year.

In future, cargoes that regularly cross the canal could find themselves fighting to remain profitable as buyers look to more distant markets that would have lower overall costs, despite a higher tonne-mile ratio.


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