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 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.

News & Analysis

25 Nov 2015
Work on the nearly complete expansion of the Panama Canal was affected this week by a 24-hour national strike by a construction workers’ union protesting alleged court corruption and a possible increase in the nation’s retirement age.
08 Oct 2015
The imminent suspension of several liner services between Asia and the U.S. East Coast and South America during the slack shipping season threatens to put as many as 50 Panamax container ships out of work by January, according to Alphaliner.
07 Oct 2015
Panama Canal Administrator Jorge Quijano has assured shipping leaders that the canal’s new, larger locks should open on schedule by April, despite concerns that the opening would be delayed by leaks in one of the locks’ concrete sills.
06 Oct 2015
Container volumes at Panama’s ports totalled just over 4 million 20-foot-equivalent units during the first seven months of this year, up by 4.4 percent from the same period last year.
03 Oct 2015
When the expanded Panama Canal debuts, assumedly by mid-2016, not all Caribbean transshipment hubs will be in the same position to accommodate larger vessels, and none may be as disadvantaged as Kingston Container Terminal.
Panama Canal locks project
01 Oct 2015
Repairs to the Panama Canal's new locks will be more extensive than previously indicated, and the date for their completion is uncertain.


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

More Commentary


Port of Virginia's Russell Held on its short-haul inland network, rail connections and the Panama Canal expansion.
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.