Panama Canal draft restrictions likely in April

Based on weather forecasts and water consumption estimates for the upcoming months, the Panama Canal is anticipating the possibility that some time during April 2016 draft restrictions may be imposed to transiting vessels.

Despite numerous water conservation measures implemented throughout 2015, the ‘El Nino’ phenomenon brought an unusually dry rainy season to the Canal watershed, impeding Gatun and Alajuela Lakes from reaching their optimum levels prior to the beginning of the 2016 dry season period.

The 2015 Canal Watershed Runoff recorded the second worst in a history of 103 years of systematic hydrological information.

Rainfall during 2015 was 36% below average and during the last 29 months, 26 of those recorded precipitations below normal. Gatun Lake’s level is currently at 81.75 feet, the lowest on record for this time of the year.

The announcement comes following the successful testing of the reinforced Cocolí Locks. The work on the repairs was completed early this month.

The contractor of the expansion project, GUPC, will now proceed to test the electromechanical components necessary for the Expanded Canal to operate.

Less than four percent remains to complete the overall project, which is expected to be inaugurated in the second quarter of 2016.

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