Panama recognizes the role climate chnage is having on the Canal.


The Panama Canal is facing a crisis due to water shortages. The Panamanian recognizes that affectation.

The Gismo Services, SA survey, published monthly in La Estrella de Panamá, revealed that 81% of Panamanians agree that climate change is already affecting the operation of the Panama Canal.

According to the survey, 37% of Panamanians fully agree and 44% agree that the waterway is affected by the effects of the El Niño phenomenon.

The sample size is 1,800 effective cases and has a geographical universe in all the provinces, plus the Ngäbe Buglé region. The study was carried out from August 19 to 23 with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3% and a confidence level of 95%.

Surveys are opinion studies subject to not reflecting the certainty of the results.

To avoid affecting the level of the water reserve, it was reported that the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has introduced three restrictions: the first is to reduce the number of vessels allowed, changing the transit from 36 vessels to 32 per day on average; the second is to reduce the maximum draft allowed for vessels from 15.2 to 13.4 meters; The third is to reduce the number of transits for the Panamax locks, the smallest, to 14 vessels per day, while the Neopanamax locks remain unchanged at 10 vessels per day.

He recalled that during 2016, when the water levels were even lower than now, although for a shorter period, the ACP implemented stronger limits than the current restrictions. Comparing these lower limits with the average draft of the vessels.

The Panama Canal connects 180 maritime routes that reach 1,920 ports in 170 countries. In 2021, it transited through this route and moved 2.4% of world maritime trade, according to figures from the ACP.

The draft restrictions in the Canal have effects on the local and world economy.

As fewer ships transit, the income to the State coffers falls and the economy feels the effects and the prices of products begin to rise.

In a recent report, the rating agency Moody’s Investors Service pointed out that the low water levels in the Canal have led to a restriction on the passage of ships, which has generated immediate effects, such as the increase in the cost of certain imported goods and other products. .

If the restriction is prolonged, Moody’s estimated that the prices of transportation, grains, oil, liquefied gas and petroleum products will become more expensive. Even more so, since the ships are carrying less cargo, which could translate into a slight interruption in the supply chain.

In August, the Cabinet Council authorized the Minister of Canal Affairs, Aristides Royo, to present bill 19-23 to the National Assembly, which dictates the Budget of the Panama Canal Authority for the fiscal term of the October 1, 2023 to September 30, 2024 amounting to $4,776.5 million.

The project estimates contributions to the State for $2,470.8 million, a lower estimate than the one presented for the 2022-2023 term, which was $2,544.6 million (about $74 million less).

For the next fiscal year 2024, (from October 2023 to September 30, 2024), the Canal foresees the handling of 486.7 million CP/UMS97 tons (Universal Ship Tonnage System of the Panama Canal), a decrease of 4.8% with respect to the estimate for fiscal year 2023.

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