Panama canal, more than 200 ships blocked

Climate change hits the Panama Canal, a strategic hub for global freight traffic.

The rainy season between May and November is no longer so stable and global warming intensifies evaporation: thus the water available to the system necessary for the Panama Canal to allow the passage of enormous container ships decreases. 4% of world container traffic passes through this fundamental structure, which becomes 40% if we consider only those for the United States. At the moment over 200 ships are blocked awaiting passage authorization.

There are 264 ships waiting. The water shortage prompted the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) to cut traffic and in May imposed a 44-foot depth limit on larger vessels, limiting the amount of cargo they can carry. It has also limited daily crossings to 32 since late July, down from an average of 36. This has contributed to a backlog of 264 vessels waiting to cross the canal on Friday, a 16% increase on the same day this year. last, according to shipment tracker MarineTraffic.

29% of the world's containers pass through the Panama Canal. While lower demand for cargo exports has eased the impact, vessels still lightly enough cargo to use it face extended waits of more than two weeks. According to data provider MDS Transmodal, up to 29% of container traffic crossing the Pacific passes through the channel. The restrictions, which have increased throughout the year, will now be in place in 2024, barring unforeseen weather changes, the channel authority said. The limit on the number of transits came in July, just when carriers were expected to ramp up commerce ahead of Black Friday and Christmas in the US.

We need 190 million liters of water for each ship. The Panama Canal is the only major shipping route that depends on fresh water, with more than 190 million liters required for every ship to pass through. The canal locks depend on the reservoirs. But the first half of the year was the second driest in nearly a century in the channel's watershed, according to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. The drought prompted Panama to declare a state of environmental emergency in May.

Average wait times for the largest tankers carrying liquefied natural gas north via the canal have increased from eight days since July 10 to 18 days as of Thursday, according to shipping agency Norton Lilly. The ACP on Thursday said it was limiting pre-booked slots for crossings to ease congestion for unbooked vessels and noted that demand was still high despite the restrictions. The average cost of sending a 40-foot container from China to the US Gulf Coast via the canal on short notice has risen 36% to $2,400 since the end of June, according to data provider Xeneta.

The consignment note is electronic