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Old 13-01-2020, 14:54   #1
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Panama Canal - new restrictions

Low water reduces number of transits. Wonder how this will effect recreational cruisers.

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According to the Panama Canal Authority, after several years of below-average rainfall, the amount of rainfall recorded in 2019 was 20 percent below the historic average and the fifth lowest recorded rainfall in 70 years. Meanwhile, the Canal has also experienced an approximately 10 percent increase in water evaporation levels due to a 0.5 to 1.5 degree Celsius rise in temperature, the Canal Authority said.
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Old 13-01-2020, 14:57   #2
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Re: Panama Canal - new restrictions

A few years ago when they had low water, they were having handline vessels go through in one day, instead of overnighting in Lake Gatun. This meant some of the transits were nightime.
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Old 13-01-2020, 15:14   #3
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Re: Panama Canal - new restrictions

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A few years ago when they had low water, they were having handline vessels go through in one day, instead of overnighting in Lake Gatun. This meant some of the transits were nightime.
Not sure how this saves money, Paul.

When we went through one our advisors was saying that the PC faced three challenges;
1. the possible Chinese canal in Nicaragua (haven't heard anything about this recently. I thought they started construction but ...?)
2. Climate change #1 - ships being able to go through the Northwest Passage
3. Climate change #2 - water shortages as described here

The new locks recycle some of the water somehow. I imagine they are using them as much as possible.
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Old 13-01-2020, 17:28   #4
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Re: Panama Canal - new restrictions

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Not sure how this saves money, Paul.

When we went through one our advisors was saying that the PC faced three challenges;
1. the possible Chinese canal in Nicaragua (haven't heard anything about this recently. I thought they started construction but ...?)
2. Climate change #1 - ships being able to go through the Northwest Passage
3. Climate change #2 - water shortages as described here

The new locks recycle some of the water somehow. I imagine they are using them as much as possible.
It's was nothing to do with saving money. It was to save water during the drought. Reduced lockage reduces water use.
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Old 13-01-2020, 17:54   #5
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Re: Panama Canal - new restrictions

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Originally Posted by AiniA View Post
...

The new locks recycle some of the water somehow. I imagine they are using them as much as possible.
The new locks have big retention ponds to reuse water...you can see them in Google Earth.
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Old 13-01-2020, 18:12   #6
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Re: Panama Canal - new restrictions

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It's was nothing to do with saving money. It was to save water during the drought. Reduced lockage reduces water use.
I must not have been clear, I completely understand the problem is water shortages. Whether a vessel passes through the canal in one day or two does not matter in terms of water usage. To save water you could say that all pleasure craft will only go through when there are at least (pick a number) ten boats waiting.
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Old 13-01-2020, 21:06   #7
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Re: Panama Canal - new restrictions

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I must not have been clear, I completely understand the problem is water shortages. Whether a vessel passes through the canal in one day or two does not matter in terms of water usage. To save water you could say that all pleasure craft will only go through when there are at least (pick a number) ten boats waiting.
And the ACP schedulers are very familiar on what it takes to reduce the overall number of lockings while still meeting the commitments to commercial traffic.
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Old 14-01-2020, 04:55   #8
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Re: Panama Canal - new restrictions

But still the rate increase seems to be significant. How does the extra revenue make up for the low water? Sounds more like they will be locking through fewer, bigger ships but preserving the income stream.
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Old 14-01-2020, 05:35   #9
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Re: Panama Canal - new restrictions

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But still the rate increase seems to be significant. How does the extra revenue make up for the low water? Sounds more like they will be locking through fewer, bigger ships but preserving the income stream.
As long as the service they provide at the price point they set is preferable to your alternatives of going around Cape Horn or not going at at all then they've set their price appropriately regardless of what it was before. We have a whole field of study on this concept, we call it microeconomics. Cost plus isn't how most of the capitalist world prices anything, as seductive as the concept might be to those without a basic micro background.
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Old 14-01-2020, 05:43   #10
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Re: Panama Canal - new restrictions

I understand that concept well enough. Which is the point of my question, what does the raise in price have to do with the lack of water?
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Old 14-01-2020, 05:52   #11
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Re: Panama Canal - new restrictions

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I understand that concept well enough. Which is the point of my question, what does the raise in price have to do with the lack of water?


Higher pricing re-routes vessels thereby reducing lock users, reducing water use.
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Old 14-01-2020, 06:13   #12
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Re: Panama Canal - new restrictions

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And the ACP schedulers are very familiar on what it takes to reduce the overall number of lockings while still meeting the commitments to commercial traffic.
If what Paul says above is true, and I have no reason to doubt him, then there is no reason to raise the price.

Clearly management is tying the price increase to the low water. Which means some ships must be excluded, and they want a premium for the remaining ships.

If thatís true then I can understand the Authority does not want to be the arbiter of who gets to go through.

Also I suppose their operating costs are fixed and fewer ships must now meet the overall cost, so the cost/ship goes up.

It becomes a rare commodity and that brings a higher price. But not because operating expenses have risen. Which then is also called gouging.

If they can meet commercial needs with available resources, as I think Paul contends, and without increased operating costs, then there is no NEED for a price increase. They are just using low water as an excuse.

Unless I miss understood Paul.
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Old 14-01-2020, 10:28   #13
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Re: Panama Canal - new restrictions

Lake Gatun is the water supply for all of Panama City. Obviously the ACP can't let the lake level get too low to supply the countries largest city. If this requires reducing lockings then the demand for the reduced transit slots will be higher. The cost of canal and lock maintance won't change much.

The new Canal locks are far more water efficient. They are setup only for the largest ships.
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Old 14-01-2020, 12:29   #14
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Re: Panama Canal - new restrictions

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Originally Posted by hpeer View Post
Low water reduces number of transits. Wonder how this will effect recreational cruisers.



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I am sitting in my boat in Bocas Del Toro, about 120 mi W of Canal Zone. If they want more water they need to simply put a pipeline up here. I don't know if the weather is much drier in CZ than here, but we have had at least 2 inches of rain every day for the last week, and the end is not yet in sight.

The central Caribbean trade winds are blowing very strong now, which brings much rain to Panama.

I don't see how small boat transits could be affected any more than ship transits. They always run us in the same locks at the same time as the ships. We just take up .01% of the water that the ship does.

It seems to me that the greater the displacement of ships in the lock, the less water is needed from the lake in uplocking, and the less lake water is lost to the ocean in downlocking.

Be careful to question the reasons for fee hikes. I doubt it has anything to do with rainfall. We passed through the canal two weeks ago and stayed overnight in Lake Gatun. I could not see any evidence along the banks of the lake that looked like the water was anything lower than completely full.
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Old 14-01-2020, 12:45   #15
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Re: Panama Canal - new restrictions

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A few years ago when they had low water, they were having handline vessels go through in one day, instead of overnighting in Lake Gatun. This meant some of the transits were nightime.
With careful scheduling they are able to use a single lockage for both a ship and more than one smaller boat. We went through two weeks ago, still they claim there is a drought, but we were kept overnight in Gatun and handlined down the next day just ourselves plus one ship. What changed?
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