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.

Special Coverage

The long-anticipated sea change in trans-Pacific shipping networks is well underway a year after the Panama Canal opened its expanded lock system.

News & Analysis

15 Jun 2017
A Panama Canal Authority plan to build a big new container terminal in Corozal near the Pacific entrance has foundered on legal challenges.
13 Jun 2017
Average container ship sizes through the Panama Canal have increased by roughly 47.5 percent to 6,000 TEU since the June 26 opening of the Panama Canal’s larger lock.
16 Nov 2016
Scrap another 100 Panamax ships in the next couple of months if there is to be any rebalancing of supply and demand, Alphaliner warns.
14 Nov 2016
More larger ships expected as carrier alliances revise schedules.
20 Oct 2016
The Panama Canal Authority said increased rainfall has permitted an increase in maximum allowable drafts at the canal’s new locks.
13 Oct 2016
Container ship transits through the Panama Canal are running well below capacity following its $5.25 billion widening.

Commentary

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' channel assessment methodology based on national benefit/cost ratio is speculative and, in some areas, flawed, especially on the benefit side.