Panama Canal Authority announces further transit reductions

November 11, 2023

Panama Canal Authority announces further transit reductions

Earlier this week the Panama Canal Authority announced further transit reductions in a plea to mitigate record-low rainfall.

October saw the area’s lowest recorded rainfall since its earliest registers 73 years ago. Further to that 2023 saw 41% less rainfall than in previous years leading to unprecedented low water levels.

About 10 vessels scattered just off shore of Panama as a result of further transit restrictions
Vessels queuing to cross the Panama Canal. Credit: New York Times

There are less than two months left of the rainy season before we enter the El Niño weather phenomenon. The minimum water reserve must guarantee supply for more than 50% of the population at the same time as maintaining operations of the interoceanic waterway.

In response to the dry weather and the rainfall predictions for the next several weeks, the canal authority has set out a plan to reduce daily transit numbers further.

At the canal’s peak it can handle 40 transits per day, as of the 30th of July 2023 the authority reduced this number to 32 vessels per day. The further restrictions (in effect November 1st) have been made in a bid to postpone any further draft restrictions.



Number of reservation slots

November 3rd to 7th


November 8 to 30


December 1 to 31


January 1 to January 31, 2024


As of February 1, 2024


A more detailed breakdown of the restrictions has been published via the Panama Canal Authority: Advisory to Shipping No. A-48-2023

The ACP strongly encourages vessels to make use of the transit reservation system to avoid the possibility of extensive delays.

“Booking slots are now crucial, and non-booked vessels may face indefinite delays. Reserve your transit slot as soon as possible before your vessels arrival to avoid substantial delays,” an advisory from port agents at Wilhelmsen stated.

On top of the dry weather, mining rights protests are also posing a threat the the canal’s operations. The protests in Panama and Colon are not currently causing major disruptions despite having road closures in key areas. However, there is potential for some should the road blockades intensify.

The ACP has provided the following resources to keep the shipping industry informed of the current situation:

To stay up-to-date with the latest updates and other industry news head to the Freightplus Newsroom or get in contact with the Freightplus team.


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