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The severe drought affecting the whole of the American continent is having an impact on the Panama Canal, one of the most important crossing points between Asia and the United States. The Canal’s low water level is forcing local authorities to impose restrictions, resulting in increasingly long vessel queues.


Faced with this situation, the Panama Canal has announced a number of restrictions, which have an impact on all shipping traffic:

  • Draft limited to a maximum of 13.3 m, forcing the largest ships to unload part of their cargo in order to be able to pass through.
  • Reduction in the number of daily passages to a maximum of 32 ships per day, compared with up to 36 ships per day in normal periods.

Restrictions set to last for at least the next ten months.


To limit the impact of this situation, the companies are proposing several options:

  • Unloading goods on the East Coast of the USA (for goods coming from Europe) to be picked up by rail.
  • Unloading upstream of the Canal for the heaviest vessels, and reloading downstream after transfer by rail along the Canal.
  • Re-routing to the Suez Canal for ships from Asia, extending transit times somewhat.

These different solutions may, however, entail surcharges applied by the companies.

Our teams are at your disposal to support you in all your international shipments.

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Balguerie Group

Global logistics engineer

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