The UK Club's correspondents, C. Fernie & Co, advise that the Panama Canal Authority has introduced fresh water conservation strategies, effective 15.02.20.
These strategies are necessary to sustain an operational level of water and to provide the Canal's customers with reliability in water levels and transit schedules, following an extended period of low rainfall. The recorded rainfall in the Panama Canal watershed fell to approximately 20% below the historical average during 2019, the fifth driest year in the last 70 years.
We summarise below the main parts of the new water conservation strategies but Members are directed to the attachments hereto for full and complete details of these strategies.
- A fixed fee surcharge for transiting vessels at the below rates plus a variable fee ranging from 1% to 10% of the vessel's toll. The percentage to be applied will depend on the Gatun Lake level at the time of transit, e.g. 1% when the lake level is 85.5 ft and greater. The level of Gatun Lake will be published daily, together with the projected level for the next 60 days so that the expected "variable" surcharges can be determined.
- The Canal's transit capacity will be restricted and there will be a reduction in the number of pre-booked slots. An average of 30 lockages (down from the current 35) will be scheduled for the Neo locks and the Panamax locks on a daily basis from 15 February to 15 May or until levels in Gatun lake begin to rise. This means the Panamax locks will be handling approximately 20 lockages per day.
- Changes have also been made to the pre-booking rules. The total number of daily booking slots is being reduced from 31 to 27 slots; 19 for the Panamax locks (13 for Large-Super-Panamax vessels and 6 for regular vessels), and 8 for Neo-Panamax vessels. There will be TWO additional booking slots offered through the auction process; one for Supers and one for Regulars, during the 3rd booking period only, regardless of the booking condition in effect at the time. These auctions slots will only become available once all the "normal" booking slots for that date, for either Supers or Regulars, independent of one another, have been allocated. Please note that the absence of a payment confirmation within 48 hours will void the booking transaction, and with that, the loss of the booked slot.
- A handling service fee will be charged by the Canal Authority at the time an ETA with a transit itinerary is created for vessels with 38.1 meters (125 feet) LOA and above. The rate per Transit itinerary/ ETA created will be:
- USD 1,500 for vessels with beams less than 27.74 meters (91 feet)
- USD 5,000 for vessels with beams between 27.74 meters (91 feet) and 32.62 meters (107 feet)
- USD 5,000 for vessels with beams greater than 32.63 meters (107 feet)
A failure to pay the service fee within 48 hours from receipt of confirmation that the ETA and transit itinerary have been accepted will result in the cancellation of the ETA/ Transit Visit. If the ETA and visit are cancelled, this fee will NOT be refunded. Short ETAs (created no earlier than the minimum time period of 96hrs) will require payment (via a bank guarantee) within 24 hrs of the ETA/ Visit creation to avoid a cancellation of the visit.
If Members have any questions relating to this legal update, please do not hesitate to approach your usual contact at the Club who would be pleased to assist you."