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

20 Oct 2016
The Panama Canal Authority said increased rainfall has permitted an increase in maximum allowable drafts at the canal’s new locks.
11 Jan 2016
What changes can shippers expect from the larger Panama Canal locks? There’s no consensus. Though ocean carriers already are factoring the canal expansion into their routing plans, most analysts expect the changes to play out gradually over several years. Wild cards include trade demand, intermodal rail rates, canal toll levels, fuel prices, carrier mergers and acquisitions, and shifts in ocean carrier alliances.
06 Jan 2016
If an uncertain global economy wasn’t enough for shippers and transportation providers, 2016 will be filled with major changes, from the massive container shipping weight mandate to liner consolidation. Other threats and opportunities will likely emerge during the year, but the 10 trends outlined here will definitely be in play and impact global supply chains. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
28 Dec 2015
The much-anticipated Panama Canal expansion project is now 96 percent complete, but will not be open to commercial traffic in April as previously reported, according to the canal authority.
18 Dec 2015
Evergreen Group’s Colon Container Terminal in Panama has completed the third phase of an expansion that will allow the terminal to handle the largest ships that will transit the Panama Canal’s soon-to-open larger locks.
02 Dec 2015
The Panama Canal Authority said a contractor has advised it will complete work next month on reinforcement of lock sills that failed tests and raised questions about the planned April opening of the canal’s expansion.


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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