The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has agreed an increase in the maximum allowable draft for NeoPanamax vessels using the Canal’s new, bigger third locks.
The new maximum draft will be 13.41 metres where it had previously been 11.74m.
It comes after several decisions in May and June this year to restrict the maximum draft in the old locks, decisions which were precipitated by water-level concerns arising from El Nino weather effects that saw lower than expected rainfall in the area of Gatun Lake.
Those decisions had seen the draft reduced from 12.03m to 11.89m and then to 11.74m and finally to 11.59m, although the latter one had been suspended before it could take effect as water levels improved.
Now the ACP says the extended draft limit is based on improved levels in Gatun Lake and promising weather forecasts for the upcoming weeks.
The NeoPanamax locks have been designed to accommodate draft of up to 15.24m.