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

The larger locks of the Panama Canal, pictured, have made it possible to reroute large amounts of cargo destined for the interior United States away from West Coast ports.
19 Sep 2016
Irrational exuberance could result in inflated expectations and overbuilding of transportation infrastructure to the US interior if the cargo volumes don’t materialize.
16 Sep 2016
“Cost, consistency and capacity will determine the gateways through which Asian imports enter the US."
The NYK Iris Leader transits the larger locks of the Panama Canal. Ships move through the new locks with the help of tugs. The old locks rely on locomotives to pull ships through them.
03 Sep 2016
The Panama Canal’s expanded locks have opened a new path for roll-on, roll-off carriers.
08 Aug 2016
Canal officials said they're "very pleased" with operations so far.
08 Aug 2016
Rickmers Maritime said its charter fleet faces even tougher times ahead following the opening of the widened Panama Canal as its second-quarter loss more than tripled and its charter revenue was down more than a third from a year earlier.
25 Jul 2016
Port touts its proximity to distribution centers along Florida's I-4 corridor.

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 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.