The problematic third locks of the Panama Canal will be repaired in January 2016 according to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), which was relaying information from the primary contractor responsible for the design and construction of the new locks.
A critical part of the ongoing $5.25bn expansion of the Canal, the locks were found during water testing in August to have cracks that led to leaks, raising serious concerns that the expansion completion date of April may be in jeopardy.
The expansion project is necessary to enable the Canal to handle the new wave of supersized container ships and tankers. The ACP and Canal stakeholders are anticipating a boom in LNG carriers from the US to Asia once the expansion is complete.
Multinational contracting firm GUPC (comprising Spain’s Sacyr Vallehermoso, Italy’s Impregilo, Belgium’s Jan De Nul and Panama’s Constructura Urbana, SA) made the promise of a January completion of the lock repairs, although it has not been specific about what day the repairs will be complete.
With the cause of the leaks determined to be inadequate steel reinforcement, GUPC pledged to reinforce the leaking Pacific end Cocoli locks as well as strengthening the Atlantic-facing Agua Clara locks as a precaution.
ACP – the government agency responsible for the operation and management of the canal – had been pressing GUPC to meet its contractual obligations regarding the timely and safe completion of the construction of the locks.
GUPC maintains that it will implement a strategy that will help reduce the impact of these repair works on the delivery date of the expansion project.