Panama Canal Expansion 95 Percent Complete

Published Nov 20, 2015 10:19 AM by The Maritime Executive

The Panama Canal Authority has released a video showing the canal expansion project is is now 95 percent complete and final electro-mechanical installations are underway. The expansion is on course to be operational by April, 2016.

The largest infrastructure project since the waterway’s original construction, the expansion will create a new lane of traffic along the canal through the construction of a new set of locks, increasing the waterway’s capacity. The new locks will have three chambers, water-saving basins, lateral filling and emptying system and rolling gates.

Meanwhile, the Authority has issued a statement saying that in order to accommodate unseasonably high demand, it has postponed non-critical maintenance work, modified bookings and assigned additional operations personnel. 

The current wait time for transiting ships has been reduced by 60 percent from its high and is now four days or less. The number of ships awaiting transit has been cut by 40 percent from its recent high in October. 

More vessels coming from the U.S. Gulf Coast and larger tankers trying to pass through the canal contributed to the backlog, according to the canal authority.

Several days of fog affected 107 vessels and a lower lake level also increased the wait time.

Tracking systems showed more than 130 vessels at the end of October between the canal's two anchorages, including bulkers and tankers.

The authority confirmed it had received several complains from users. A normal waiting period is 24-36 hours.