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

25 May 2016
Port Miami Director Juan Kuryla and JOC Senior Content Editor Alessandra Barrett talk on the sidelines of the 16th TPM Conference about Port Miami’s efforts to prepare for the expanded Panama Canal.
13 Oct 2015
U.S. East Coast ports will increase their share of containerized trade from 35 percent to roughly half by 2020, putting them on parity with the West Coast, according to Rafi Danieli, CEO and president of Zim Integrated Shipping Services.
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.

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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Video

Port Miami Director Juan Kuryla and JOC Senior Content Editor Alessandra Barrett talk on the sidelines of the 16th TPM Conference about Port Miami’s efforts to prepare for the expanded Panama Canal.
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.