Opening date of expanded Panama Canal thrown into doubt again

When the Panama Canal’s expansion will be complete remains unclear as authorities have finally admitted the cracks to the new locks, first revealed in August, are far more severe than first thought.

Yesterday the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) said its contractor for the locks, Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) had found that localised seepage was the result of insufficient steel reinforcement.

“After careful examination of all the other sills in both lock complexes, GUPC stated that in addition to reinforcing the sill that presented the issue, they would also reinforce the first and second sill in the Cocoli Locks and the first three sills in the Atlantic-facing Agua Clara Locks as a preventative measure, though these sills have not presented any issue,” said the ACP.

“GUPC verbally indicated that the completion date for the expansion project will remain April 2016, as planned. However, the ACP is awaiting formal confirmation from GUPC, in the form of a comprehensive report, which should also include the root cause of the detected filtrations,” ACP added.

Originally planned to open in 2014, the $5.25bn expansion project has been hit by a number of cost overruns and delays.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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