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

09 Jul 2014
The Panama Canal Authority, which earlier this year dismissed the possibility of an alternate canal through Nicaragua, had a more cautious reaction this week following the Nicaraguan government’s approval of plans by a Hong Kong-based company for the proposed $40 billion canal.
Panama Canal’s Pacific locks under construction on Oct. 29. Photo courtesy of Panama Canal Authority.
30 Oct 2013
The Panama Canal expansion’s completion date has been delayed from April 2015 to June 2015 in the Pacific locks, according the Panama Canal Authority.
Georgia Ports Authority's newest and largest ship-to-shore cranes work the Nedlloyd Hudson, a Maersk vessel, at the Port of Savannah.
24 Oct 2013
Four super-post-Panamax cranes that arrived at the Port of Savannah in June are now fully operational at Georgia Ports Authority’s Garden City Terminal.
Panama Canal locks under construction. Photo courtesy Panama Canal Authority (ACP).
11 Sep 2013
The Panama Canal in 2015 will regain much of the U.S. East Coast container cargo that is being diverted now to the Suez Canal route, according to Rodolfo Sabonge, the canal’s executive vice president of market analysis and research.
The Panama Canal Authority met with the Japanese Shipowners Association and several car manufacturers in Japan to discuss the future toll structure of the canal.
10 Sep 2013
The Panama Canal Authority has met with the Japanese Shipowners Association and several car manufacturers in Japan to discuss the future toll structure of the canal...
Cranes and containers at the Port of Charleston
10 Sep 2013
CHARLESTON, S.C. — If the necessary approvals are delivered as planned, the Port of Charleston deepening project will be approved in late 2015, and the South Atlantic gateway will have a 50-foot channel five years later.

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Commentary

The Panama Canal expansion has triggered some serious consideration about a port’s place in the new world order of larger ships and the place of its neighbor(s).

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.