Panama Canal Draft Restriction

  • Panama Canal Draft Restriction


    An ongoing drought has prompted the Panama Canal Authority to once again impose draft restrictions on the waterway. Effective May 9, the maximum draft allowed in the canal will be 11.59 meters (38 feet), an advisory from the authority said.

    The move will be the third in a series of cuts on the maximum draft allowed on the canal. On April 18, vessels will be limited to 11.89 meters (39 feet) of draft and on April 29 that limit will fall to 11.74 meters (38.5 feet). As in the past, the draft restrictions will be implemented in six-inch decrements at time.
    Panama Canal Authority vice president Carlos Vargas said there are no early signs the drought will break. “Unfortunately, there is no positive news,” he said. “Quite the contrary.” El Nino, a cyclical weather phenomenon, has exacerbated the drought since last year, in addition, the last three years have been Panama’s driest in more than a century the authorities say. Central America’s rainy season is expected to break the drought. The precipitation is predicted to begin in “late May or early June,” Vargas said. The canal depends on two lakes for its water, and both are well below their average levels for this time of year.
    Below are weight controls which various ocean lines have cited:
    HJS: control weight as 9 ton per TEU
    OOCL: control weight as 8.1 ton per TEU
    EMC: control weight as 7 ton per 20GP & 10 ton per 40GP & 40HQ
    COSCO: control weight as 9 ton per TEU

    The authority said it would eliminate draft restrictions when the lake returns to normal levels.
    For questions on how the draft restrictions will affect your shipments via Panama Canal, or additional information please contact

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