Interactive Report: Taking the Long Way Around - Ships Divert From the Panama Canal

by S&P Global Commodity Insights
Thursday February 8, 2024

Seaway disruptions are converging along routes headed through key chokepoints such as the Panama and Suez Canal, as intensifying effects of climate change and war risks in the Red Sea have tightened shipping logistics globally. As freight rises across shipping classes, commodities from agriculture to refined products to LNG have felt the effects of delayed deliveries and rising prices. 

In the Americas, warm, dry weather has further squeezed transit capacity at the Panama Canal, spurring shipowners to consider longer, more expensive voyages.

The Panama Canal Authority, or ACP, tightened restrictions significantly in November 2023 when water levels at Gatun Lake reached historic lows amid the country's driest rainy season. On Jan. 16, the number of daily transits at the canal was slashed to 24, compared to the full capacity of 38-40 daily transits, increasing wait times significantly.

As freight costs across shipping sectors rise in tandem, ship operators must decide how to best weigh their profit margins on spot voyages as global ship supply tightens – face potentially weeks-long wait times or take longer alternative routes that could pass through war-torn waters.

Follow along in the report to see the impacts of these shifts and the decisions ship operators must make when facing weeks-long delays or war-torn regions.

To access the full interactive report, click here