Date: Wednesday, August 23rd, 2023
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has moved to highlight the real congestion numbers at both ends of the waterway amid misleading reports carried in recent days suggesting there are 200 ships waiting.
The ACP has updated daily data which shows that as of today there are 131 ships waiting, some 45% more than the average, but still markedly down from the 165 vessels recorded earlier this month.
Splash called the plateauing of the canal congestion – among this month’s most discussed shipping stories – nine days ago.
Pictured above is a satellite image provided by Planet Labs of the southern side of the canal near Panama City, captured on August 3 at a time when congestion was still mounting.
The ACP also stated yesterday that the average waiting for unbooked transits is between nine and 11 days, down by 50% over reports from 10 days ago.
The media’s frenzied coverage of the waiting times are in clear conflict with the transparent reporting from the ACP
“Much of the media’s frenzied coverage of the waiting times for a Panama passage are in clear conflict with the detailed and transparent reporting from the ACP,” commented Andy Lane, a partner at container advisory CTI Consultancy.
Dry bulk carriers waiting at either end of the canal have seen the largest reduction in waiting time.
“The Panama Canal believes in transparency and permanent communication. We inform in advance of the measures that may influence our customers’ operations so that they can make business decisions, ensuring the sustainability and continuity of world trade,” the ACP stated in a release yesterday.
The Panama Canal Authority slashed the number of daily transits by 20% last month in a bid to conserve freshwater in what has been a year of unprecedented drought for the Central American country. It has also cut the maximum draft for its neopanamax locks by around 2 m.
While rains have returned to Panama, the authorities are unlikely to make any upwards revision on drafts or the number of transits anytime soon aware of the effects of this year’s El Niño weather phenomenon which tends to bring drier weather to the country later on this year.
Indeed, the canal authority has conceded it could take a hit of up to $200m in earnings for next year if conditions persist.