Panama Canal Authority to lower draft restriction to 47 feet as of March 13
By Marieke Alsguth / Platts
Petroleumworld 02 14 2019
The Panama Canal Authority said Tuesday it will tighten the maximum draft restriction in the Neopanamax Locks to 47 feet, or 14.33 meters, starting March 13.
The change further restricts the transit of Suezmaxes through the canal, and marks the third restriction announced in 2019 based on low projected water levels in Gatun Lake.
A Suezmax vessel, when fully laden, cannot transit the canal at a 47-foot draft, as such tankers usually require a 50-foot draft for a full 1 million barrel cargo of 43 API crude.
For dry bulk vessel classes, Neopanamax and Capesize vessels cannot transit the canal at a 47-foot (14.33 meter) draft, as they require maximum drafts of 15 meters and 20 meters, respectively.
In the Tuesday announcement, ACP stated that vessels arriving after March 13 with drafts exceeding the maximum 47 feet may be allowed passage, taking into account the actual water level of the Gatun Lake at the time of passage. If water levels are too low, vessels with drafts exceeding 47 feet will be required to offload cargo to make the voyage through the Neopanamx Locks.
The 47-foot restriction will not affect Panamax vessels, as Panamaxes with the longest maximum draft when fully laden have drafts of 46-47 feet maximum, according to a dirty tanker shipbroker. "A Panamax will never hit 47 feet, neither will an Aframax," the shipbroker said.
Clean Medium Range and Long Range 1 tankers, along with all LNG vessel classes, can transit fully laden at the restricted 47-foot (14.33 meter) draft. Handysize, Supramax and Ultramax, and Panamax size dry bulk vessels, with maximum drafts of 10 meters, 11 meters, and 12 meters, respectively, will be able to pass through the restricted 14.33-meter maximum draft.
The restriction to 47 feet will decrease the maximum allowed draft for vessels transiting the Neopanamax Locks by 1 foot, or 0.3 meters, from the last restriction of 48 feet, or 14.63 meters, which was announced January 23 and will be implemented February 27.
The draft restriction currently in place for vessels transiting the Neopanamx Locks is 49 feet, or 14.94 meters, which was announced January 7 and went into effect February 11. It was preceded by a maximum draft restriction of 50 feet, or 15.24 meters, that was implemented June 26, 2018.
The ACP stated that further draft adjustments would be announced in 12-inch, or 30.5-centimeter, decrements, with advance notice of four weeks.
The Neopanamax locks are designed to allow vessels with a draft of 50 feet, or 15.2 meters, to transit. The maximum draft restrictions are based off the deepest point of the Gatun Lake in Tropical Fresh Water at a density of 0.9954 at 29.4 degrees Celsius (85 degrees Fahrenheit).
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Story by Marieke Alsguth; Edited by Valarie Jackson from Platts / SPGlobal.
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spglobal.com 02 13 2019
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