Panama Canal Gives Nod to New Pacific Port

Panama Canal Gives Nod to New Pacific Port

The Panama Canal Board of Directors this week formally approved the development and construction of a transshipment port in Panama’s Corozal region.

Upon completion, the port will have the capacity to handle more than five million TEUs within a 120-hectare area at the Canal’s entrance to the Pacific. The project is now awaiting the final step for approval from Panama’s National Assembly.

The two-phased port project will include the construction of a 2,081-linear-meter-dock, a container yard, offices and warehouse facilities within a 120-hectare area owned by the Panama Canal.

The project’s first phase will include 1,350 linear meters of docks, three docking positions for Post-Panamax ships, and an approximate handling capacity of three million TEUs. Currently, the Pacific side has an estimated capacity of five million TEUs. With the expanded Canal, demand on the Pacific side is expected to reach six million TEUs and by 2020, eight million TEU capacity.

The National Assembly is expected to review the bill in the coming days. If approved, the Panama Canal will move forward with the development and tender process. The Panama Canal will issue a call for bids to hire a company that will be responsible for all stages of the project. The contract will, most likely, consist of a 20-year concession, renewable once for 20 years.

”Advancing the terminal in the Corozal region is a priority. It is part of the Panama Canal’s goal to explore and develop areas, products and services that are close to our core business, and that add substantial value to our customers as a one-stop gateway with multiple services,” said Panama Canal Administrator/CEO Jorge Luis Quijano.

The new port terminal will also include the construction of port facilities capable of handling Post-Panamax vessels. With a terminal of 16.3-meter-deep access canal and a depth of 18 meters along the dock, the new facility will provide docking facilities for five Post-Panamax ships.

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Panama expansion delays hurting cruise lines

Delays to the expansion project underway at the Panama Canal will affect the itineraries of cruise lines that had intended to send their larger ships along the iconic waterway this year.

The canal is currently undergoing a multi-billion dollar widening some 100 years after it was first opened, which will see it able to hold ships larger than the existing locks allow for.

Currently, only vessels measuring approximately 290 metres or less in length and up to 32 metres in width can traverse the canal.

However, the consortium undertaking the work to widen the waterway – which connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans – has threatened to down tools if authorities do not compensate it for the significant cost overruns on the project, amounting to $1.6 billion (£975 million).

As a result, Cruise Critic reports that larger ships could be forced to wait until April 2015 or later before they are able to pass through the Panama Canal.

The expansion plans would see ships measuring approximately 425 metres in length, 55 metres in width and 18 metres in depth capable of traversing the canal.

That should be enough to accommodate the current largest cruise ships in the world, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.