New draught restrictions in the Panama Canal are posing a potential headache for tanker owners.
Fotios Katsoulas, a liquid bulk analyst at IHS Markit's Commodities At Sea, said the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) is imposing a maximum draught of 13.7 metres due to projected rain and water levels in the coming weeks.
"This is expected to have a huge impact on trade flows of aframax tankers, since a fully laden aframax that transits through the neopanamax locks would have a draught of 14.9 metres," he added. Suezmaxes would also be affected.
This has been the fifth change in the restrictions so far in 2019.
The maximum is already being lowered to 14 metres on 29 March.
And a new draught restriction for Panama's Gatun Lake is also coming into effect from 10 April, lowering it from 14.3 metres to 13.7 metres.
"Any ships arriving after 10 April with draughts exceeding the maximum could be allowed transit, but this will depend on the water levels of Gatun Lake at that point," Katsoulas said.
Otherwise the vessels will have to offload cargo before they pass through, he added.