This month of October is the driest since the earliest registers, 73 years ago. The drought caused by the El Niño phenomenon continues to impact the Panama Canal’s reservoir system and, as a result, water availability has been reduced.

What has happened? In October 2023, there has been 41% less rainfall than usual, lowering Gatun Lake to unprecedented levels for this time of year.

Therefore, with less than two months left until the end of the rainy season, the Canal and the country face the challenge of the upcoming dry season with a minimum water reserve that must guarantee supply for more than 50% of the population and, at the same time, maintain the operations of the interoceanic waterway.

New measures

Against this backdrop, the Panama Canal announces reservation slots available in order to maintain a competitive draft from November until February.

They are established as announced on Advisory to Shipping No. A-48-2023:

Dates Number of reservation slots
November 3rd to 7th 25
November 8 to 30 24
December 1 to 31 22
January 1 to January 31, 2024 20
As of February 1, 2024 18

These measures are in addition to those previously adopted to preserve fresh water resources and to ensure the safety of transit operations, such as the use of water reutilization basins in the Neopanamax locks and cross-filling in the Panamax locks.

The Panama Canal urges its customers to make reservations in order to transit as programmed. In addition, information is provided in advance, as well as in real time, so that shipping companies can plan and make the best decisions.

Canal specialists remain vigilant of climate variability and rainfall patterns to implement actions to ensure that operations remain safe, efficient and competitive for the benefit of Panama and world maritime commerce.

Please refer to the following links for more information: