Panama Canal Expansion

Panama Canal Expansion

The $5.25 billion expansion of the Panama Canal will either dramatically boost East and Gulf Coast container trade or disappoint their expectations of gaining more cargo. But the opening of much larger locks in early 2016 is already boosting prospects for more exports to Asia from U.S. Gulf ports of LNG, coal and grain cargos.

What is certain is that the doubling of capacity on the connector of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans will change the way the world¹s shipping lines ply their global routes when the project is completed. The doubling of the canal’s capacity will allow shippers to bring their Asian goods to the Eastern and Gulf coasts for less money. That’s largely because the new locks will be able to handle larger vessels that can carry nearly three times as many containers. The project is also expected to bolster Panama’s strategic positions as a transshipment hub and business center for much of Central and South America.

For general developments at the Panama Canal, see also JOC’s Panama Canal News page.

News & Analysis

Russell Held at JOC Inland 2015
22 Nov 2015
Port of Virginia's Russell Held on its short-haul inland network, rail connections and the Panama Canal expansion.
18 Nov 2015
The Panama Canal Authority expects to find out next month whether repair and reinforcement of concrete gate sills can be completed in time to avoid delaying the scheduled April opening of the canal’s historic expansion.
12 Nov 2015
Widespread predictions that an expanded Panama Canal will set off a boom in Panamanian transshipments are unlikely to pan out, according to port analyst Asaf Ashar.
04 Nov 2015
Ocean carriers are canceling services and telling some shippers they can expect weeklong delays due to considerable and unexplained congestion through the Panama Canal.
13 Oct 2015
U.S. East Coast ports will increase their share of containerized trade from 35 percent to roughly half by 2020, putting them on parity with the West Coast, according to Rafi Danieli, CEO and president of Zim Integrated Shipping Services.
08 Oct 2015
The imminent suspension of several liner services between Asia and the U.S. East Coast and South America during the slack shipping season threatens to put as many as 50 Panamax container ships out of work by January, according to Alphaliner.


Canals used to be a sleepy topic. Suddenly, times have changed.

More Commentary


Port of Virginia's Russell Held on its short-haul inland network, rail connections and the Panama Canal expansion.
James Hertwig, president and CEO of the Florida East Coast Railway, discusses the railroad’s preparations for the opening of the expansion of the Panama Canal, through projects at the Port of Miami, Port Everglades and the South Florida Logistics Center.
On the second day of a two-day tour of Panama, JOC Editor Mark Szakonyi rides the Panama Canal Railway to the Port of Colon, a growing transshipment hub.