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

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.
05 Feb 2014
Work to expand the Panama Canal was suspended today following a breakdown in talks between the canal authority and the construction consortium to resolve a bitter dispute over more than $1 billion in cost overruns.
Work on the Panama Canal expansion. Courtesy Panama Canal Authority.
16 Jan 2014
The Panama Canal, following a widely reported payments dispute with contractors that threatens to delay its expansion, went on the counteroffensive this week with a new website designed to provide “Clarification of the most common doubts about the Expansion.”
Panama Canal expansion work
08 Jan 2014
The Panama Canal Authority said Wednesday it could not negotiate over a new proposal by the consortium that is building its new locks to keep construction work going in the face of its threat to stop work in a dispute over the contractor’s claims for cost overruns.
07 Jan 2014
The Panama Canal Authority on Tuesday has made an offer to resolve its dispute with the contracting consortium that is threatening to suspend construction work on its new locks.
05 Jan 2014
The Panama Canal Authority said Sunday that its analysis of the claims for $1.6 billion in cost overruns by the consortiu

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Commentary

Fiscal year 2013 brought a slight decrease in Panama Canal tonnage, in part because of continuing weak demand in the United States and Europe and the general slowdown of emerging market economies. Canal traffic was also impacted by the maritime industry’s shift toward larger, more energy-efficient vessels, which are unable to transit the canal until the expansion program is completed.

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.