Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Panama Canal Project to Officially Open in June for 14,000 TEU Container Ships

Gateway Between Atlantic and Pacific Oceans Almost Complete
Shipping News Feature
PANAMA – The project to create a new lane of traffic along the Panama Canal through the construction of a new set of locks, doubling the waterway’s capacity is proceeding apace. The expansion will allow container ships up to around 13,000 to 14,000 TEU to pass through the waterway as against the previous 5,000 TEU limit. With the entrances now deepened by dredging at both Atlantic and Pacific ends an inauguration ceremony will be held on Sunday, June 26, 2016.

The project is now 97% complete and a programme of final testing is underway as the last details, such as the raising of the Gatun Lake’s maximum operating level, continue. At the time of writing the Gatun Locks are out of service in order to perform repairs and trials on ACP Caisson No.2. This outage is required to prepare the caisson for upcoming lane outages and to ensure safe conditions during locks maintenance works.

During these disturbance the Panama Canal Authority have offered Just-in-Time slots for transit through an auction process whilst regular vessels less than 200 feet in length continue to transit as normal. Meanwhile there is still no report of progress on the ‘rival’ canal project across Nicaragua to compete with Panama which we have reported on previously.

The Panama Canal expansion is based on six years of research, which included more than 100 studies on the economic feasibility, market demand, environmental impact and other technical engineering aspects. Works on the Panama Canal Expansion began on September 2007 at a total cost of US$5.2 billion.

Webcams showing various parts of the Canal can be seen here.

Photo: A view of the new Pacific Locks.