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Increased Delays for Vessels Transiting the Panama Canal


Previously EGG-NEWS has commented on the impact of extreme drought on the waiting time to transit the Panama Canal.  The authority responsible for the waterway cut the number of daily reservation slots from 32 at the beginning of November to 24 and declining to 22 on December 1st and reaching a low of 18 by February 1st 2024.  Average wait time for a vessel without a reservation for Atlantic-to-Pacific passage was 2.1 days at the beginning of November but extended to 11.4 days at the end of the month.  South-bound transit reached a maximum of 23 days during the last week of November.  Waiting periods for vessels without reservations are now 25 days, approximately four times the duration in early November.  Panamax vessels with a beam of less than 91 feet are at a disadvantage compared to Super Panamax vessels with beam widths of 91 to 107 feet.



On November 29th, 33 dry bulk carriers were at anchor off entrances to the canal with 18 on the Pacific side and 15 on the Atlantic side.  Liquified petroleum gas tankers and liquified natural gas carriers are now avoiding the Panama Canal and are taking the longer route around the Cape of Good Hope.  Container vessels are also affected with 21 at anchor on December 29th.  According to shippers, Panama Canal restrictions are now impacting container vessels with delays expected to deteriorate over the coming two months. This has implications for the landed cost and timing of U.S. agricultural exports to Asia