El Nino expected to limit vessel transit

Source: www.joc.com

As El Nino 2015 is predicted to approach, importers and shipping companies are preparing for the worst. The storm approaching the mid-south is expected to have a large impact on vessels and operations active throughout the Panama Canal.

Operation companies that are actively working on expanding the canal are arranging to put a hold on any ongoing construction and upcoming plans, putting a delay on any expansion. From what can be seen with existing traffic, any approaching vessels are likely to have an additional 20-30hrs of transit time due to congestion throughout the canal.

Panama Canal Expansion project prjected to be placed at a halt as El Nino approaches
Panama Canal Expansion project projected to be placed at a halt as El Nino approaches.

As El Nino 2015 approaches the drop of the water levels throughout the canal have implanted restrictions as of September 8th, causing vessels with drafts (water depth) greater than 11.89 meters to either lighten cargo loads or redirect route outside of the canal. Being that each ship that goes through the canal, about 52m gallons of water are required.

Importers as well prepare for the worst, many are asked to make arrangements to reroute incoming shipments outside of the canal and plan for delays on any future cargo. As weather worsens business owners are advised to anticipate delays throughout the Holiday season as well as early spring, causing a major cut in cargo coming in through the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016. It is likely that smaller companies who do not hold large contracts with major shipping companies will be effected the greatest as they are placed in a situation that does not allow room for much redirecting options. Larger shipping companies have advised now is the time to prepare for any arrangements and options with upcoming imports.

So when can we expect El Nino 2015? Weather experts warn the mid-south storm projected to be larger than El Nino that hit in 1997-1998 is anticipated to arrive as early as November 2015 and possibly last as late as spring 2016.