Panama Canal Suspends Latest Round of Draft Restrictions

The Panama Canal Authority has announced the suspension of its latest draft reduction.  The current maximum authorized is 44.0 feet Tropical Fresh Water (TFW) for vessels transiting the Neopanamax locks and 39.5 feet TFW for ships transiting the Panamax locks and will remain in effect until further notice.

The Panama Canal Authority has announced 6 draft reductions since January due to a brutal dry season this year due to the “El Niño” effect in the Pacific Ocean.  During El Nino events, rain patterns change and cause widespread droughts.  In Panama, the dry season typically runs from January to March, but this year the dry spell has been drier and longer than normal.  In December 2018, the level of rain in the Canal’s watershed – an area where rainfall and ground water runs into the Gatun and Madden Lakes – was about 90% below average.  According to the Panama Canal Authority, dry conditions are likely to continue throughout July and may even last through the end of the year.

While the current maximum levels are higher than they have been in the last 3 months, impacted services may still face space and weight limitation, and booking rejections may still occur.  Shippers should continue to confirm verified gross mass weight limitations to avoid supply chain disruptions.






  • Seatrade Maritime News, Panama Canal suspends last round of draught restrictions
  • Freight Waves, Panama Canal Authority suspends latest draft restrictions on ships