Customer Advisory - Panama Canal Updates

Dear Valued Customer,

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced another set of restrictions to reduce transit
capacity because of the continued low water level at GatĂșn Lake. We would like to provide a
brief update on the new regulation and current drought situation.

Starting from Nov.3, the number of vessels allowed to move through the canal each day was
lowered from 32 to 25. Daily ship crossings will further decrease every month until next
February and are planned to reach as low as 18. Lowering to just 40% 50% of full capacity.
Under normal conditions, between 34 36 vessels traversed the canal daily. The drought and
vessel reductions are having a major impact on the flow of trade.

DatesNumber of reservation slots
November 3rd to 7th25
November 8 to 3024
December 1 to 3122 
January 1 to January
31, 2024
As of February 1,

Source:Panama Canal Authority

In recent months, the ACP has imposed various passage restrictions to conserve scarce water, including cutting vessel drafts and daily passage authorizations. Water levels in Gatun Lake, the rainfall fed principal reservoir that floats ships through the Panama Canal's lock system, have continu ed to decline to unprecedented levels for this time of year. The recorded precipitation for October has been the lowest on record since 1950 (41% below), and so far, 2023 ranks as the second driest year for the same period. A naturally occurring El Nino climate pattern associated with warmer than usual water in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean is contributing to Panama's drought.

Capacity from Asia to the U.S. has decreased by about 2% to 10% per week as carriers adjust to the weight restrictions, with lighter containers taking priority. The new restrictions could cause more delays for vessels and containers. With limited space and weight limitation s , it should be noted that space to East Coast could continue to be tight. As always, we recommend early planning your shipment and making reservations well in advance to ensure sufficient lead time to make the delivery.

For more information, please visit and if you have any further questions, please feel free to contact your USPTI associate.