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Panama Canal Seeks to Build New Reservoir

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Panama Canal Seeks to Build New Reservoir


 Posted 09/06/2024

The Panama Canal, through which about 5% of global trade transits ($270 billion dollars worth of cargo annually), seeks to make its comprehensive system of reservations for ships that want to cross it "more permanent" and is exploring building a new reservoir to increase its capacity. 

Due to the drought caused by the El Niño phenomenon, the Central American channel had to impose traffic restrictions from 2023, including a reduction in the draft allowed for ships and a reduction in the maximum number of authorized ships to cross it.  "In our quest to achieve lasting operational improvements, our goal is to make this reservation system more permanent, even as traffic volumes begin to normalize, to further increase the reliability of the Canal," a representative said. 

Previously, spaces for boats only had to be reserved in advance for 70% of transits.  The representative stressed that climate variability poses a long-term risk to the operations of the sea route, as does the growth of the Panamanian population and the expansion of maritime trade, which is expected to generate greater demand for water.  Faced with this dilemma, they are looking for alternatives. "A promising solution we are exploring is the construction of a new reservoir, which would provide capacity for 11 additional transits," he explained. 

At the end of May, the administration of the transoceanic passage announced that it was increasing the maximum draft to 45 feet (about 13.71 meters) authorized for vessels in the Neopanamax locks of the channel.


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