Panama Canal expansion to be completed by the end of June

Posted by Thibaud Porcher on 11 April 2016 | Comments

The opening of the expanded canal has been pushed back – again – to June 2016.

The construction to widen the Panama Canal has experienced considerable difficulties since 2007 including social conflicts, financial disputes, cracks on the building site and more recently, lacks of water.

El Nino – a periodic and temporary weather pattern- has caused a drought in the region reducing water levels in the lake. Therefore, canal’s operators have been forced to limit the draft of vessels that can sail the trade route connecting Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Panama Canal expansion to be completed by the end of June

The Panama Canal expansion project, also called the Third Set of Locks Project should have been originally completed in October 2014.

Since its inauguration in 1914, more than a million ships sailed in the sea of the Panama Canal. The project was launched by the French and then taken by the United States, who kept the property until it's retrocession to Panama in 1999.

Today 5% of the global maritime trade pass through the canal. The 12,000 ships that use this waterway every year don’t exceed 300 meters and carry a maximum of 5,000 containers.

The expansion will add a new lane of traffic allowing the transit of Post – Panamax vessels with up to 13,000/14,000 TEUs. This will double the canal’s capacity, having a significant impact on global shipping. With the expansion, international trade routes may be shifted too. For instance, a ship coming from the U.S. Gulf Coast will be able to reach Asia two weeks faster than through the Suez Canal.

After a lot of delay, we still await the opening of the canal. Will this really be opening in June? Wait & see…


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Panama Canal expansion to be completed by the end of June