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

Panama Canal locks expansion project
The Panama Canal Authority is shooting to open its third set of larger locks that can handle post-Panamax ships in May, but it doesn’t expect the larger locks to attract new services for several months.

News & Analysis

23 May 2016
At the 16th TPM Conference JOC Senior Content Editor Alessandra Barrett and Norfolk Southern Railway Director of International Intermodal Randy Bayles discuss how the expansion of the Panama Canal has impacted how NS serves ports on the U.S. East Coast and the challenges presented to intermodal rail providers by container surges from mega-ships.
New locks project at Panama Canal
02 Mar 2016
A panel of ocean shipping experts at the 16th Annual TPM Conference gazed in their crystal balls and saw very different outcomes for shipping patterns after the Panama Canal opens its new larger locks to commercial traffic in June.
22 Feb 2016
The Panama Canal Authority warned that the El Nino weather phenomenon could result in draft restrictions on the waterway as soon as April.
09 Feb 2016
The Panama Canal cast fresh doubt on the planned Nicaragua canal on Monday, saying there isn’t enough cargo to support two canals, that the price tag is far above what Nicaragua says it will cost and that necessary tolls to pay for it would need to be three times what the Panama Canal charges today.
25 Jan 2016
The Panama Canal Authority is shooting to open its third set of larger locks that can handle post-Panamax ships in May, but it doesn’t expect the larger locks to attract new services for several months.
21 Jan 2016
When the Panama Canal’s third set of larger locks open to commercial traffic this spring, the massive expansion project will be more than a year and a half behind the original target date of October 2014 and an estimated $150 million over the $5.25 billion budget set 10 years ago.

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.

More Commentary

Video

At the 16th TPM Conference JOC Senior Content Editor Alessandra Barrett and Norfolk Southern Railway Director of International Intermodal Randy Bayles discuss how the expansion of the Panama Canal has impacted how NS serves ports on the U.S. East Coast and the challenges presented to intermodal rail providers by container surges from mega-ships.
JOC Senior Content Editor Alessandra Barrett and Florida East Coast Railway President and CEO Jim Hertwig sat down at the 16th TPM Conference to chat about the impact of the expanded Panama Canal on Florida ports and transport firms, the FECR’s new e-commerce platform, and the future of shipping refrigerated products in South Florida.
Port of Los Angeles' Gene Seroka on current status of preparations for mega ships as the opening of an expanded Panama Canal approaches in 2016. Seroka details projects such as the Alameda Corridor, planned to handle trains 50 years into the future, the repurposing of land into "peel-off" yards, and revolutionary technology platforms from the U.S. DOT to Uber-like operations for less-than-truckload shipping.