Officials of the Panama Canal Authority warned yesterday that water-conserving measures will be in place for at least the next 10 months. Faced with an unprecedented drought this year, combined with the onset of the El Niño weather phenomenon, administrators at the Panama Canal have cut the draft restrictions for ships transiting its larger neopanamax locks by 2 meters, as well as slashing the volume of daily transits by 20% to just 32 vessels a day. These measures have seen ships backing up in significant numbers at either end of the canal. Today’s official total count is 129 ships, down from the peak of 165 earlier this month but still 43% higher than the average.
The canal’s deputy administrator, Ilya Espino, told Reuters yesterday the restrictions would remain in place for at least the next 10 months and, as such, throughout the first half of next year.