ACP renews its strategic alliances with U.S. ports
Five years ago, in a strategic move to boost trade and promote the use of the
'All-Water Route; (the route from Asia to the U.S. East Coast via the Panama
Canal), the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) signed Memorandums of
Understanding (MOU's) with the port authorities of New York/New Jersey,
Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, Houston, New Orleans, Miami,Tampa and
Massachusetts. The trade handled by these ports is of particular importance
to the waterway, as 66 percent of Canal traffic originates in or is destined for
the United States.
These MOU's have been instrumental in the sharing of information between
the Canal and the port terminals regarding projects aimed at increasing
capacity to accommodate projected cargo growth over the next decade.
Most recently, the ACP held a MOU renewal ceremony with the Virginia Port
Authority (VPA) in April 2008, highlighting the port's current capacity to ACPAdministrator/CEOAlbertoAlem6n Zubieta and VPA Executive
handle post-panamax vessels. Director JerryA. Bridges shake hands after the MOU renewal ceremony.
Expansion will provide additional capacity for Panamax vessels too
In September 2007, the ACP launched the first phase of its Expansion Program, which
includes the building of a new lane of traffic through the construction of a new set of
locks. When completed, the expanded waterway will accommodate vessels 49 meters
(160 feet) wide, 366 meters (1,200 feet) long and 15 meters (50 feet) deep, with a cargo
volume of up to 170,000 deadweight tons (DWT) or 12,000 twenty-foot equivalent units
(TEUs). Costing an estimated $5.25 billion, the project is designed to double the capacity
of the waterway and meet the projected increase in the demand for transportation
S .". .. services worldwide.
However, the benefits of expansion are not limited to wider and longer ships. With the
Snew locks, Panamax-sized dry bulkers that transit the Canal today at 78 percent of their
capacity will increase their utilization rate to almost 98 percent. This will allow for
additional cargo loads of up to 20,000 tons, making more efficient use of the vessels and
generating savings in transportation costs. Baby capesizes of up to 120,000 DWT will be
able to transit at 98 percent capacity. This new capacity will facilitate the transport of
coal, metals and minerals in large vessels that are unable to transit the existing Canal.
Vessels that will clearly benefit from the increase in capacity include those that currently
take long voyages from west Canada, around the Magellan Strait, to Europe and also
from the east coast of Colombia to the west coast of Mexico.
Expansion will open the waterway to new industries requiring the use of vessels that
currently do not fit through the Canal. For example, vessels transporting Liquefied
Natural Gas (LNG) from Peru and Trinidad and Tobago will have the ability to utilize the
Canal to reach their target markets in North America, Europe and Asia. Other beneficia-
ries include the Panamax tanker vessels that will be able to transit fully loaded, improving
mn ..l... m,, rn n o f Dor-iW~n, their competitiveness in the short- and medium-range hauls.
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New, more powerful cutter-suction dredge to replace the Mindi
In March, the ACP officially awarded the contract to design and build a new, more
powerful cutter suction dredge to IHC Beaver Dredgers B.V. at a price of $95.9 million.
The new 12,000KW dredge will replace the dredge"Mindi,'which has been in service at
the Panama Canal since 1942 and has only a 9,000KW capacity. With an expected
delivery date of May 2011, the new dredge will have the modern equipment, systems
Ep ia nd components required for efficient operations.
The new dredge will have more pumping capacity and the ability to dredge at deeper
lengths.This will allow the ACP to boost the production capacity of its dredging fleet,
thus making the waterway more navigable, safe, reliant and efficient.
The dredge will be constructed in the Netherlands and have the capacity to dredge
along the entire Canal, including the Gaillard Cut (the narrowest stretch in the Panama
Canal), Gatun Lake, and both Atlantic and Pacific entrances, at a depth of 25 meters.
Dredge Mindi in operation at the Canal.
AAPA Held Meetings in Panama
During the months of May and June, the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) held its "Harbors, Navigation and Environment"seminar and its
"Latin American Regional Meeting"in Panama City, Panama.
At both events, hundreds of representatives from the maritime community listened to ACP Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemn Zubieta discuss topics
related to the economic impact of Panama Canal expansion on Latin America and the transshipment activities in the region. Technical sessions on the
Expansion Program, including its environmental and dredging components, were provided by ACP executives Ilya Marotta and Daniel Muschett, during
the"Harbors, Navigations and Environment" seminar.
Meeting participants also were able to see first-hand excavation work underway for the creation of the access channel that will link the new Pacific locks
with the Gaillard Cut, at the west side of the Canal. Additionally, the meetings'agendas included visits to Miraflores Locks where attendees watched the
transit of vessels through the Panama Canal.
Paraiso Hill undergoes significant excavation
Paraiso (Paradise) Hill, located north of the Pedro Miguel Locks in the
Canal's Pacific side, has been excavated from its original 136 meters
height to 72.5 meters, the height equivalent to a 21-story building.
The excavation of Paraiso Hill is part of the first contract for the dry
excavation of the Pacific locks access channel. This new channel will link
a new third set of locks on the Pacific end of the Canal with the existing
Gaillard Cut. Since last December, Panamanian company Constructora
Urbana, S.A. has worked 24 hours a day to advance this part of the
contract, which will reduce the hill to 46 meters.
Specialized equipment performs nighttime excavation work in Paraiso Hill.
Panama Canal Authority Tel. (507) 272-7961
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