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

09 Jul 2014
The Panama Canal Authority, which earlier this year dismissed the possibility of an alternate canal through Nicaragua, had a more cautious reaction this week following the Nicaraguan government’s approval of plans by a Hong Kong-based company for the proposed $40 billion canal.
The port of Liverpool.
25 Apr 2014
Peel Ports, owner of the port of Liverpool, signed a £100 million ($168 million) contract with China’s Zhenhua Heavy Industries to supply cranes for a new deep-water quay that will triple the size of container ships the northwestern UK port can handle.
James Hertwig
07 Apr 2014
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.
From left: Tay Yoshitani, Port of Seattle; Robert Leachman, University of California, Berkeley;John Wheeler, South Carolina State Ports Authority; Michael Murphy, CenterPoint Properties; Richard Smith, Sears Holdings Corp.
10 Mar 2014
LONG BEACH, Calif. — Retailers and other beneficial cargo owners that import merchandise from Asia make their routing decisions based on where the goods are produced, the U.S. destination, the cost of transportation, the value of the cargo and its sensitivity to transit time.
28 Feb 2014
The deadline for completing the $5.25 billion Panama Canal’s expansion project has been postponed by another three months under a tentative refinancing agreement between the Panama Canal Authority and the engineering consortium that is building the new locks.
21 Feb 2014
The consortium building the new locks at the Panama Canal resumed work on the project on Thursday after a two-week suspension in a dispute over $1.6 billion in cost overruns.

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Commentary

The Panama Canal expansion has triggered some serious consideration about a port’s place in the new world order of larger ships and the place of its neighbor(s).

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.