- The two oil tankers traveled across the Pacific Ocean, then performed a U-turn within 10 miles of the Panama Canal, as reported by Bloomberg.
- The canal’s water level has drastically decreased because of an extreme drought, resulting in a restriction on the number of ships passing through.
- This situation has led to a significant backlog of ships waiting to transit, compelling some to explore alternative routes.
Recently, two gas tankers crossed the Pacific Ocean but took a U-turn just before reaching the Panama Canal due to heavy traffic caused by low water levels, according to a report from Bloomberg.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
The tankers, Pyxis Pioneer and Sunny Bright, were within 10 miles of the canal before changing course, based on ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.
Their intended destinations are uncertain. However, these ships, with a capacity to carry approximately 158,000 cubic meters of liquefied petroleum gas, were empty after delivering their cargo in Asia.
Reports suggest that one of the tankers making a U-turn was indicating a new route to Houston, implying it would circumvent the congestion in the Panama Canal by taking a major detour around South America to reach the US Gulf Coast, bypassing the traffic.
The second ship initially headed south, then turned west and indicated that it was still awaiting new instructions.
The peculiar movements of these vessels highlight how the severe drought draining the Panama Canal poses a threat to disrupting trade in energy resources, consumer goods, and food.
The Panama Canal is a critical junction for global trade, and shipments of oil and gas have experienced significant growth in recent years, expediting the transportation of US exports to Asia. Presently, the Gulf Coast is the main hub for LPG exports in the region.
In fact, according to the Panama Canal Authority, petroleum products, chemicals, and coal are among the principal commodities passing through the canal.
However, diminishing water levels in Gatun Lake, which feeds into the waterway, have limited the number of ships transiting the canal.
The quotas have become so stringent that they have resulted in massive backlogs, with some companies paying millions of dollars to secure the first spot in line.
As of August, more than 200 ships were waiting to pass through the canal. However, by early October, the number had reduced to around 95.
Nevertheless, the trip still took approximately nine and a half days, compared to the previous two and a half day duration, as previously stated by Insider.