Panama will get a fourth container terminal, a new one in Colon at the Atlantic entrance to the canal, under a project that has been granted permits by the Panama Maritime Authority.
The $600 million terminal, which is designed to have an annual capacity of 2 million 20-foot equivalent units, will be built by a consortium of private Asian developers called the Panama Colon Container Port LLC, with Jones Lang LaSalle acting as development adviser.
The group is in final negotiations with one of the largest global terminal operators to operate the 92-acre terminal after it is completed in the fall of 2014.
“This will be the first terminal in Panama designed from the ground up for the post-Panamax era,” said John Carver, who heads up JLL’s global port infrastructure group. “This will be a big needle mover for Panama, one entirely built by private developers,” he said.
It is being built as a transshipment center to help eliminate some of the pressure from the U.S. East and Gulf Coast ports that won’t be ready to accommodate the super post-Panamax vessels that will start sailing through the canal after 2014.
The other three terminals in Colon are expanding their capacity to handle the larger ships anticipated after the new locks are completed by 2015.
“JLL is reaching out to the infrastructure investment funds to play a role in the project,” Carver said. He said the group has also winnowed potential terminal operators down to a short list from among the top operators, with the winner to be announced this summer.
The new terminal will be built on privately owned land on the former Fort Randolph, a U.S. Navy base that was used during World War II to prevent German submarines from entering the canal. The site is on the east side of the Atlantic canal entrance at the base of the breakwater and will be the terminal closest to the canal.
PCCP is studying the possibility of building a logistics center with warehouses and cold storage on another 70 acres of land it owns adjacent to the terminal site that may become a part of the Colon Free Trade Zone, even though it is not adjacent to the existing zone.
“We just did the bidding for the dredging and land reclamation two weeks ago, and we’re expecting to start construction in July,” Carver said. “We are looking to be open for operations in the fall of 2014.”
The terminal will have four berths, of which two will accommodate super post-Panamax vessels and a third, post-Panamax vessels along a 3,450-foot quay. A fourth separate 522-foot berth will accommodate multipurpose and breakbulk vessels. It will have a draft of 52 feet. The terminal will have a container yard with a capacity of storing 36,000 TEUs and have 800 reefer slots.
The container terminal, which will be capable of handling ships of up to 18,000 TEUs, will have eight super post-Panamax cranes with reaches of 22 containers across and two Panamax cranes of 13 container across.