PANAMA CANAL: Increase in the number of booking slots and maximum allowable draft

Posted by Thi Pham
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Based on the present and projected level of Gatun Lake, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announces an increase in booking slots in the Panamax locks beginning May 16, 2024. In addition, effective June 1, 2024, an additional slot will become available in the Neopanamax locks. This slot will be offered at the opening of the 2nd Period competition on May 18, 2024.

The following tables summarise the slot distribution per Booking Period for the Panamax and Neopanamax Locks:

For booking dates from May 7, 2024, to May 15, 2024:

For booking dates from May 16, 2024, to May 31, 2024:

For booking dates from June 1, 2024, to July 14, 2024:

For booking dates from July 15, 2024, until further notice:

In reference to Advisory to Shipping No. A-10-2024, the reduction in booking slots during the scheduled maintenance will remain in effect until May 15, 2024, inclusive.

The following table summarises the competition dates for the new slot distribution for booking dates beginning May 16, 2024:

In the Panamax Locks:

For transit dates effective May 16, 2024, no more than eight (8) supers may be booked for transit in each direction, and of these, no more than three (3) with daylight restrictions per direction. The combined number of daylight restricted vessels shall not exceed six (6) vessels. Similarly, no more than three (3) regular vessels may be booked for transit per direction, and of these, no more than one (1) may be allocated to vessels transiting with restrictions per direction. The total number of regular vessels with restrictions may not exceed two (2).

In the Neopanamax Locks:

 The maximum number of slots that may be allocated during all Booking Periods (except slots sold during Period 3) remains at four (4) in the northbound direction, and three (3) in the southbound direction.

In addition, for transit dates effective May 16, 2024, any auctions (daily or extraordinary) that are not awarded between seven and four days prior to the transit date, may be offered again through auction, four days prior to the transit date. In the Panamax Locks, if the auctioned slots are not awarded, they may be offered to other vessel categories (supers or regulars), three days prior to the transit date. The ACP will determine the conditions under which the slots will be offered, based on the vessel mix and other operational factors, and will be announced when the auction is published.

Due to the number of modifications in booking slot distribution and periods implemented since last year on account of the water crisis, a temporary priority in slot allocation will be given to passenger vessels during the competitions at the opening of Booking Period 1 in the Panamax locks for booking dates beginning October 1, 2024, through December 31, 2024.

Regarding Advisory to Shipping No. A-05-2024, the Customer Ranking published on February 1, 2024, will remain in effect until further notice.

Finally, effective June 15, 2024, the maximum authorized draft allowed to vessels transiting the

Neopanamax locks will be 13.71 meters (45.0 feet) TFW. This adjustment ensures safe navigation through the locks and channels, while considering the projected level of Gatun Lake and operational requirements.

For additional information, please reach out to our team at Panama@S-5.org

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