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.
18 Jul 2016
Container lines won't be able to scrap themselves out of their excess capacity situation.
13 Jul 2016
The Panama Canal has ousted the Suez Canal as the leading route for all-water container services between the Far East and the U.S. East Coast.
Sights such as this one, a Panamax ship transiting the old Panama Canal locks, are set to become increasingly rare as container lines upsize tonnage to take advantage of better economies of scale made possible by the canal's addition of newer larger locks.
12 Jul 2016
The recent opening of the expanded Panama Canal is shaking up the deployment pattern of container ships.
HMM's new ships will replace vessels with 4,600 TEUs as container lines continue to upsize the ships they send through the Panama Canal.
11 Jul 2016
Hyundai Merchant Marine plans to deploy six ships with capacities of 10,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units on an existing Asia-U.S. East Coast service via the enlarged Panama Canal.
27 Jun 2016
Cosco Shipping Panama on Sunday made the first commercial transit of the Panama Canal’s new locks.

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.

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