Panama Canal expansion costs, timeline out soon
The cost and schedule for the Panama Canal Authority to build a new lane for post-Panamax ships is due out in a few weeks, a canal official said at a luncheon in Long Beach, Calif. Wednesday.
Agustin Arias, director of engineering and projects, told a meeting of the Propeller Club of the U.S. Port of Los Angeles-Long Beach that rate hikes for use of the canal were likely to help fund the cost of the mammoth project. The authority is proposing to build a third set of locks capable of accommodating 10,000-TEU ships up to 19 containers wide with 50 feet of draft.
Current canal physical restrictions prevent the waterway from handling the raft of 8,000-TEU and larger vessels coming online in the next few years, while Arias said demand for the canal will far outpace capacity if the expansion is not undertaken.
'It's difficult to say when the canal will reach capacity,' he said. 'I don't think it will be 2007. The liner industry has seven weekly services through the Panama Canal planned over the next three years, so I hope we can accommodate them.'
Arias said transit fees for containerships will rise from the current $49 per TEU to $54 in 2007.