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 2015 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.

Special Coverage

Is the Panama Canal losing its position as the dominant route for East Coast importers of cargo from Asia? Will it be able to regain the services it has been losing to the Suez route when it’s finally able to open its large new locks to post-Panamax ships at the end of 2015?

News & Analysis

Panama Canal container ship
02 Sep 2014
If the Panama Canal hopes to retain container carrier services from South China and Southeast Asia to the U.S. East Coast and regain those it has lost to the Suez Canal over the last few years, it will have to develop a new pricing structure or lower its tolls after it opens its new locks to commercial traffic in 2016, according to a new report from SeaIntel Maritime Analysis.
Weekly wrap-up for Aug. 16, 2014
16 Aug 2014
Diversions related to the ongoing negotiations on the U.S. West Coast between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association continue to have an impact elsewhere.
11 Aug 2014
The International Transport Workers’ Federation and four Panamanian unions have accused the Panama Canal Authority of ongoing failure to provide decent pay and safe working conditions for more than 9,000 affiliated maritime workers in the canal zone.
11 Aug 2014
The Panama Canal Authority is warning a drought might force it to limit the drafts of container vessels traversing the waterway, reducing the amount of cargo container ships can carry.
09 Aug 2014
The third set of Panama Canal locks aren't even completed yet, and yet Panama continues to talk openly about a fourth set of locks to handle even bigger ships.
04 Aug 2014
The Panama Canal Authority and the consortium hired to build a third set of locks have amended their construction contract to reflect a March settlement of a payment dispute that interrupted work for two weeks.

Commentary

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

More Commentary

Video

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.