Drought puts the Panama Canal under pressure


Panama was about to impose weight restrictions on ships transiting its canal, until a last-minute storm lifted its perilously low water levels last week.

The Panama Canal is one of the world’s busiest trade routes: 40% of all US container traffic passes through the 82km canal each year.

But it’s also vulnerable to rainfall variations: its ‘lock’ system uses huge amounts of fresh water to lift ships 26m up and then lower them back down at the other end.

Intrigue’s take: Much of the cargo that’s already in transit was loaded before the recent storms arrived, on the assumption Panama would impose the weight restrictions as planned.

So, those baguette slipperslightsabre chopsticks, and Nicholas Cage shower curtains you ordered might still be a little delayed.

Also worth noting:

  • The canal authority chief has attributed the severity of Panama’s drought to climate change, saying water shortages used to occur every five years, but they now occur every three years.
  • One continent over, the Suez Canal just recorded a record revenue of $9.4B in the 2022/23 financial year.
Latest Author Articles
Qatar bets big (very big) on LNG

Qatar has announced major plans to lift its liquefied natural gas (LNG) production by almost 85% before the end of the decade.

27 February, 2024
Is something brewing in North Korea? 

Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin gifted a full-sized luxury limousine to his North Korean bff and neighbour, Kim Jong Un. Kim’s sister described it as a sign of the “special personal relations” between the two leaders.  

22 February, 2024
The UAE could be out of the financial bad books

The United Arab Emirates is set to be taken off a global financial ‘grey list’ as soon as this week, according to Bloomberg.

20 February, 2024
What we know (and don’t know) about Russia’s anti-satellite weapon system

Folks in Washington are abuzz right now – here’s why.

16 February, 2024