The Panama Canal will temporarily limit the size of vessels allowed to go this route because of the drought caused by the El Niño phenomenon, the authorities announced Friday the canal.
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP), the track manager, said the maximum draft of vessels would be reduced to 11.89 meters as of 8 September, which affect 18.5% of ships normally take this route linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
The draft is the height of the submerged part of the vessel which varies with the load carried.
The Canal Authority added that new restrictions could be imposed September 16th if weather conditions do not change. The boats pulling water could then be limited to 11.73 meters.
The administrator of Jorge Quijano channel said that the month of June and the first half of July were the driest in 102 years.
Therefore, the level of water in lakes supplying the channel has decreased.
The authorities had already taken similar measures in March 1998 because of drought.
Long 80 kilometers, the Panama Canal, through which passes 5% of world maritime trade, is in service since 1914. Expansion work is underway since 2007 to allow the passage of ships of 400 meters long and carrying up ‘to 14 000 containers, triple the current capacity.