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

Panama Canal locks project
01 Oct 2015
Repairs to the Panama Canal's new locks will be more extensive than previously indicated, and the date for their completion is uncertain.
new Panama Canal locks being filled with water
03 Jul 2015
The new locks at the Pacific end of the Panama Canal began to fill with water in late June in preparation for months of testing of their new gates before they open to commercial traffic next April.
Panama Canal transit
28 May 2015
The expansion of the Panama Canal early next year will make an enormous quantity of container ship tonnage available for services that transit the canal, wiping away current capacity restrictions that restrict usage to only small and inefficient ships by today’s standards.
18 May 2015
The degree to which the Panama Canal expansion will alter the global cold chain is yet to be determined, but stakeholders are already seeing signs of a rise in business.
18 Mar 2015
The agency responsible for the operation and management of the Panama Canal has asked for an international arbitration panel to review a $233 million award to the consortium expanding the waterway.
container ship squeeze through Miraflora locks at Panama Canal
23 Feb 2015
The Panama Canal Authority is setting its sights on retaining the increase in container volumes from Asia to the U.S. East and Gulf Coast ports it gained in recent months, thanks to shippers diverting cargo from congested West Coast ports.


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

More Commentary


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.
On the first day of a two-day Panama Canal tour, JOC Editor Mark Szakonyi checks out a Hamburg Sud container ship pass through the canal.