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

24 Mar 2016
The Panama Canal Authority said its new locks will be inaugurated June 26, more than two years after the original completion target.
Panama Canal transit
28 May 2015
The expansion of the Panama Canal early next year will make an enormous quantity of container ship tonnage available for services that transit the canal, wiping away current capacity restrictions that restrict usage to only small and inefficient ships by today’s standards.
18 May 2015
The degree to which the Panama Canal expansion will alter the global cold chain is yet to be determined, but stakeholders are already seeing signs of a rise in business.
18 Mar 2015
The agency responsible for the operation and management of the Panama Canal has asked for an international arbitration panel to review a $233 million award to the consortium expanding the waterway.
03 Mar 2015
Panama Canal Authority CEO Jorge L. Quijano said that it’s possible for Nicaragua and its Hong Kong backer to build a rival canal in five years, but it’s not a “feasible investment from a private investment standpoint.”
container ship squeeze through Miraflora locks at Panama Canal
23 Feb 2015
The Panama Canal Authority is setting its sights on retaining the increase in container volumes from Asia to the U.S. East and Gulf Coast ports it gained in recent months, thanks to shippers diverting cargo from congested West Coast ports.

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.

More Commentary

Video

Port of Los Angeles' Gene Seroka on current status of preparations for mega ships as the opening of an expanded Panama Canal approaches in 2016. Seroka details projects such as the Alameda Corridor, planned to handle trains 50 years into the future, the repurposing of land into "peel-off" yards, and revolutionary technology platforms from the U.S. DOT to Uber-like operations for less-than-truckload shipping.
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.