The Panama Canal Expansion Keeps Moving Ahead

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has published some progress reports recently. Here is a summary of the most recent events.

Panama Canal Expansion – The ACP says that the $5.25 billion project to expand the Panama Canal has been 46.5 percent completed. In a report the ACP projected that by the end of the Q3 2012 $4.28 billion dollars will have been invested in Canal-related contracts.

Recently retiring Panama Canal administrator Alberto Aleman Zubieta said the canal’s expansion, designed to accommodate larger vessels sailing between the Atlantic and Pacific, would have an effect on current trade patterns. Currently nearly 5% of the world’s shipping trade goes through the Canal, with the biggest users being China and the US.

Manzanillo Terminal – Operations Back to Normal After Colon Free Zone Protests. Shipping and cargo operations in the Manzanillo port in Colon, Panama, are running normally again after rioting broke out regarding a new law to allow sales of land in the Colon Free Zone in Colon on the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal.

The streets have been cleared of violent protestors and road-blocks to the Manzanillo International Terminal have been removed. Rail transport and road and gate access has been restored. The port reopened Saturday, October 27th, 2012. This was good news for the international shipping community, which curtailed shipments through the Canal until the status of the Canal and its serving ports were clarified.

The controversial law to sell lands in the CFZ has since been killed by Panama’s Assembly at President Martinelli’s request. “Tranquility and normality have returned to the streets following last week’s protest,” police spokeswoman Mara Rivera told reporters. Three people were reported to have died in the disturbances, and 82 people remain under arrest for rioting and looting. 200+ people were reported to have been arrested.

French Contractor Will Build a New Panama Canal Bridge – French contractor Vinci won the tender to construct a 4.6-kilometer (2.9 mile) reinforced concrete bridge, including its viaducts, on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal.

The plan is to make a double-delta bracing bridge in an inverted “Y” shape. The bridge will be located 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) north of the Gatun Super Post-Panamax locks that are under construction. The bridge will have four traffic lanes and will rise 75 meters (246 feet) above the Canal. The design has already been proven successful in China, France, Japan, Spain, Korea and Japan.

The winning bid was US$366 million, beating out an international consortium of Odebrecht of Brazil and Hyundai of South Korea ( $429 million), and another consortium consisting of Acciona Infraestructuras of Spain and Tradeco of Mexico. ($386 million).

The bids and documentation, as well as the financial capacity of each company, were analyzed by the ATP’s evaluation committee, the authorities said in a statement. The bridge is part of Panama’s US$5.2 billion expansion project, which is scheduled to be finished and open in late 2014 or early 2015.