PANAMA CANAL NEWS
Message from the Panama Canal
Even though 2009 is likely to be remembered for the worldwide
economic downturn, it was a highly productive year for the Panama
Canal Authority (ACP). We achieved significant progress in the
execution of the Canal Expansion Program, while at the same time,
continued to improve the quality of our customer service.
The ACP's success in managing the Canal and the Expansion
Program has also received attention from some of the world's and
industry's top publications including The Economist, Lloyd's List and
USA Today, among others.
According to fiscal year-end figures (October 2008-September
2009), a total of $3.6 billion in contracts under the Expansion
Program has been awarded to an array of some of the best
companies in their trades. The $5.25 billion Expansion Program is
moving ahead on schedule and within budget, and once completed
in 2014, is expected to redefine shipping, as it will open a new door
to world trade.
Panamax vessels entering the locks,
Improved reliability and faster service
The ACP is aware that to remain competitive in today's fragile
economic climate, the Panama Canal must provide the safe, reliable
and efficient service our customers have come to expect.
For this reason, we have invested more than $1.6 billion to modernize
and improve the waterway over the last decade. The investments to
increase the waterway's capacity include new tie-up stations, more
tugboats and the installation of a merry-go-round system at the locks,
to name a few.
In fiscal year 2009, the average Canal Waters Time -the time it takes
a vessel to complete its transit, waiting time included -was reduced
to 23.1 hours, from 31.6 hours in fiscal year 2008.
Changing the game for global trade
Once completed, the expansion program will double the waterway's
capacity to approximately 600 million Panama Canal Universal
Measurement System tons (PC/UMS). The program entails the
construction of a new set of locks that will cater to vessels measuring
a maximum 49m (160') in beam, 366m (1,200') in length and with
the capacity to carry up to 12,000 TEUs and others capable of
carrying 170,000 deadweight tons.
The transit of larger vessels through the waterway will bring positive
changes to the shipping industry, opening new opportunities for
trade. Expansion will also guarantee the sustainability of the Canal
well into the future and will help expedite the global supply chain and
bring goods to market faster, ultimately saving time and money for
both producers and consumers worldwide.
Good performance in spite of the crisis
The 2009 economic downturn reduced trade volumes in all shipping
routes and affected businesses throughout the world. Even so, the
Panama Canal remained the route-of-choice for shippers looking for
the best value alternative for transporting goods worldwide.
From October 2008 through September 2009, the Canal registered
299.1 million Panama Canal tons (PC/UMS), which represents a
decrease of 3.4 percent in comparison with the previous fiscal year.
Transits fell marginally by 2.4 percent, totaling 14,342. The main
reductions in traffic were registered in the containership and vehicle
Helping clients in time of crisis
Pacific Access Channel
Work on the excavation of the new access channel that
new Pacific locks wth the Gallard Cut (the narrowest st
Panama Canal) began n 2007. This part of the project \
into four different phases or projects known as PAC 1-
three phases are already underway, with the first t\
completion, while the fourth phase should be awarded this
By October 31 of this year, Constructora Urbana, Co
PAC-1, had completed 98 percent of the work, while Ci
Minera Mara, responsible for the second phase or PAC-:
91 percent. The excavation work for the third phase, beinc
by Constructora MECO, s progressing on schedule with
of the work completed as of October 31
Most comprehensive expansion contract awarded
The new locks will use water-saving basins.
Looking into the future
Dredging of Canal entrances and navigational channels
Panama Canal Authority Tel. (507) 272-7961
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