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Panama Canal sets draft restrictions due to El Nino-related drought

The Panama Canal Authority said it will temporarily lower the maximum allowable draft for vessels transiting through the Panama Canal in September due to El Nino-related droughts, the first such restriction in nearly 20 years. The maximum allowable draft will be lowered to 11.89 meters (39 feet), from the current level of 12.04 meters (39.5 feet) from September 8, in a move that could affect almost 20% of vessels transiting the canal. "These temporary and preventive measures are due to an anticipated climatic variability event related to El Nino … it has triggered a drought in the Canal Watershed, causing the water levels of Gatun and Alhajuela Lakes to fall substantially below their average for this time of year," the Panama Canal Authority, or ACP, said in shipping advisory Friday. El Nino is a phenomenon marked by a warming of sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific and can […]

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Panama Canal expansion will allow transit of larger ships with greater volumes

Ships carrying crude oil and petroleum products are limited by size restrictions imposed by several of the main thoroughfares of maritime navigation: the Panama Canal, the Suez Canal, and the Strait of Malacca. These size restrictions provide another way to classify the large tankers that carry most of global crude oil and petroleum product trade. The Panama Canal , an important route connecting the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, currently has a limited role in global crude and petroleum product transport. The canal’s current size restrictions means smaller vessels, with capacities of approximately 400,000-550,000 barrels of light sweet crude oil, are the only ships that can safely pass through the canal. These ships are referred to as Panamax tankers, and their smaller cargos lead to a higher per-barrel cost. However, the Panama Canal is undergoing an expansion that will allow for the passage of […]

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Expansion of Panama Canal expected to open in 2016

MADRID (AP) — Panama’s president says the major expansion of the Panama Canal will be completed in time to open for business in the beginning of 2016. The project is expected to be finished in December 2015, and President Juan Carlos Varela says it will open early the following year, despite construction setbacks. A dispute with the European consortium that is expanding the canal led to a two-week work stoppage earlier this year. Varela said Tuesday in Spain that Panama is working closely with Madrid and with Spanish company Sacyr, which is leading the consortium. The $5.25 billion project aims to reduce congestion and expand capacity. The new channel will be able to accommodate ships with twice the cargo capability of vessels that currently traverse the existing canal.

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