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Panama Canal sets draft restrictions due to El Nino-related drought

The Panama Canal Authority said it will temporarily lower the maximum allowable draft for vessels transiting through the Panama Canal in September due to El Nino-related droughts, the first such restriction in nearly 20 years. The maximum allowable draft will be lowered to 11.89 meters (39 feet), from the current level of 12.04 meters (39.5 feet) from September 8, in a move that could affect almost 20% of vessels transiting the canal. "These temporary and preventive measures are due to an anticipated climatic variability event related to El Nino … it has triggered a drought in the Canal Watershed, causing the water levels of Gatun and Alhajuela Lakes to fall substantially below their average for this time of year," the Panama Canal Authority, or ACP, said in shipping advisory Friday. El Nino is a phenomenon marked by a warming of sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific and can […]

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Panama Canal expansion will allow transit of larger ships with greater volumes

Ships carrying crude oil and petroleum products are limited by size restrictions imposed by several of the main thoroughfares of maritime navigation: the Panama Canal, the Suez Canal, and the Strait of Malacca. These size restrictions provide another way to classify the large tankers that carry most of global crude oil and petroleum product trade. The Panama Canal , an important route connecting the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, currently has a limited role in global crude and petroleum product transport. The canal’s current size restrictions means smaller vessels, with capacities of approximately 400,000-550,000 barrels of light sweet crude oil, are the only ships that can safely pass through the canal. These ships are referred to as Panamax tankers, and their smaller cargos lead to a higher per-barrel cost. However, the Panama Canal is undergoing an expansion that will allow for the passage of […]

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Expansion of Panama Canal expected to open in 2016

MADRID (AP) — Panama’s president says the major expansion of the Panama Canal will be completed in time to open for business in the beginning of 2016. The project is expected to be finished in December 2015, and President Juan Carlos Varela says it will open early the following year, despite construction setbacks. A dispute with the European consortium that is expanding the canal led to a two-week work stoppage earlier this year. Varela said Tuesday in Spain that Panama is working closely with Madrid and with Spanish company Sacyr, which is leading the consortium. The $5.25 billion project aims to reduce congestion and expand capacity. The new channel will be able to accommodate ships with twice the cargo capability of vessels that currently traverse the existing canal.

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Panama Weighs Another Canal Expansion at Centennial Mark

A century after the U.S. steamship Ancon first sailed through the Panama Canal, a $5.3 billion expansion delayed by bickering contractors and angry workers is nearing completion. The problem is it might not be big enough. With the expansion 16 months behind schedule, canal administrator Jorge Quijano said officials are studying whether to dig a fourth set of locks to handle a growing fleet of super-sized ships. Those include the 400-meter-long “Triple E” vessels capable of carrying more than 18,000 containers, four times more than current ships passing through the canal. “We are always analyzing the market and as soon as we can economically justify it we will begin,” said Manuel Benitez, deputy administrator of the Panama Canal Authority, adding that he thinks the current expansion is sufficient for now. “If that changes and the demand exists we are ready to begin.” Panamanian officials today will celebrate the anniversary […]

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Japan Protests Planned Limits on Panama Canal Ships

Japan has protested to Panama about planned limits on the size of ships in the Panama Canal, saying they could prevent some U.S. natural gas from reaching customers in Asia. The issue has cast a pall over hopes for expanded trade in natural gas after the widening of the canal, scheduled for completion in early 2016. The U.S., enjoying a newfound abundance of natural gas thanks to technological advances, has opened the door to exports, and Japanese companies have eagerly signed up for U.S. supplies to make up for idled nuclear power after the March 2011 accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co. ‘s Fukushima Daiichi complex. The widening of the canal will open the way for the first time to liquefied-natural-gas carriers. Currently the LNG carriers must take a more circuitous route from eastern North America to Asia. But Panama has set a width limit of 49 meters for […]

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Expanded Panama canal 'should be in operation' by Jan 2016

Tokyo (Platts)–7Mar2014/225 am EST/725 GMT The Panama Canal Authority expects the expanded canal "should be in operation by January 2016" after a trial period, Silvia de Marucci, ACP’s manager of marketing and forecasting, said Friday. Marucci made the comments in response to a question at the International LP Gas Seminar in Tokyo. "In January 2016, we are expecting to be operational" after a period of testing at both the Atlantic and Pacific side of locks, Marucci said. At the moment, the expansion is 65% complete, she added. The latest target is seven months behind a previous estimate of June 2015. The project was originally scheduled for completion this year. Next week, ACP intends to sign a final agreement with its contractor for the expansion project, Marucci told Platts ahead of the conference Friday. "Works were stopped about a month ago but resumed two weeks ago and we are very […]

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Expanded Panama canal ‘should be in operation’ by Jan 2016

Tokyo (Platts)–7Mar2014/225 am EST/725 GMT The Panama Canal Authority expects the expanded canal "should be in operation by January 2016" after a trial period, Silvia de Marucci, ACP’s manager of marketing and forecasting, said Friday. Marucci made the comments in response to a question at the International LP Gas Seminar in Tokyo. "In January 2016, we are expecting to be operational" after a period of testing at both the Atlantic and Pacific side of locks, Marucci said. At the moment, the expansion is 65% complete, she added. The latest target is seven months behind a previous estimate of June 2015. The project was originally scheduled for completion this year. Next week, ACP intends to sign a final agreement with its contractor for the expansion project, Marucci told Platts ahead of the conference Friday. "Works were stopped about a month ago but resumed two weeks ago and we are very […]

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Deal Reached on Panama Canal Expansion

Panama and a consortium of European construction firms, which have been locked in a bitter dispute over cost overruns on a multibillion-dollar project to expand the Panama Canal, say they have reached a preliminary deal to end the spat and ensure final completion of the work. A final agreement still needs to be signed but both sides said this could happen as early as this weekend. Panama says the deal will allow for the expansion of the canal, which stretches 50 miles through the Central American isthmus between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, to still be completed by the end of 2015. The $5.2 billion construction project on the 100-year-old waterway began in 2007, an effort to widen and deepen the canal so larger ships could fit through. When finished, Panama stands to greatly increase its more than $1 billion in annual revenue from toll fees. The U.S., which […]

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Ports, Shipping Companies Retool for Bigger Panama Canal

Shipbuilders are cranking out ever-bigger container vessels and the world’s major ports are dredging deeper, all on account of an ambitious multibillion-dollar project to widen the Panama Canal—an endeavor currently stalled by a contract dispute. More than just the canal is tangled up in the acrimonious battle between Panama and the builders over $1.6 billion in cost overruns. "There are many cities, countries and port authorities who are spending billions of dollars in anticipation of the traffic that will come from that newly expanded canal," said Adam Putnam, Florida’s commissioner of agriculture. "So, there will be an impact if there is an extended delay." The dispute so far has halted construction for two weeks and now threatens to delay the project by at least three years beyond the proposed completion date of December 2015. Negotiators say they are hopeful of a settlement as soon as Tuesday. Still, even […]

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Panama Canal chief reports progress in dispute

Panama Canal Administrator Jorge Quijano says the agency has reached tentative agreement on some issues in efforts to resolve a dispute that has halted work on a major expansion plan. But Quijano also says the Authority might take over the project if no final agreement with the contractors is reached this week. He spoke Wednesday during a chamber of commerce meeting. The contractors say work has gone $1.6 billion over budget and they have demanded the authority pay. The dispute has threatened to delay the biggest expansion of the canal since it opened a century ago. © 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use . Latest News Latest Winter Games News ©2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Terms under which this site is provided. […]

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Panama Canal Expansion on 'Brink of Failure' Due to Financing Dispute

Work to expand the Panama Canal so bigger ships can fit through the 100-year-old waterway has virtually ground to a halt, and the consortium in charge of the construction effort said the project is now on the "brink of failure" after talks broke down between the contractors and Panama’s government over who is going to pay for $1.6 billion in cost overruns. The storied canal, built by American engineers, is among the world’s most vital shipping routes, acting as a shortcut between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans that shaves nearly two weeks off travel times for ships that otherwise would need to travel around South America at Cape Horn. But the canal has become too narrow for the world’s ever-larger ships, including those hauling products such as natural gas and other fuels. Countries including the U.S., which is fast becoming a net exporter of natural gas as it uses […]

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Panama Canal Expansion on ‘Brink of Failure’ Due to Financing Dispute

Work to expand the Panama Canal so bigger ships can fit through the 100-year-old waterway has virtually ground to a halt, and the consortium in charge of the construction effort said the project is now on the "brink of failure" after talks broke down between the contractors and Panama’s government over who is going to pay for $1.6 billion in cost overruns. The storied canal, built by American engineers, is among the world’s most vital shipping routes, acting as a shortcut between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans that shaves nearly two weeks off travel times for ships that otherwise would need to travel around South America at Cape Horn. But the canal has become too narrow for the world’s ever-larger ships, including those hauling products such as natural gas and other fuels. Countries including the U.S., which is fast becoming a net exporter of natural gas as it uses […]

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Panama Canal Expansion: Standoff Worries Locals

ABOARD THE MAERSK BATAM, On the Panama Canal—Everything about this Danish-flagged ship is big. It is longer than two football fields, as high as a seven-story building and carries 3,000 cargo containers weighing 30,000 tons. But as shipyards from India to Korea continue to build vessels that are longer, wider and taller, the Maersk Batam actually is a midsize ship. Some people even call it small. "Not that there’s anything wrong with smaller ships," says Capt. Mike Hands, a Briton who has spent 40 of his 57 years working on ships. "Smaller ships go to smaller ports, which are always more interesting," he says, as the Batam begins its 10-hour passage through the Panama Canal. Interesting isn’t what the Panama Canal is about. Panama’s government has kicked off a multibillion-dollar project to widen the canal’s navigation channels and build larger locks—the pools of water that lift boats from sea […]

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Panama Canal expansion project: Have American fears come true?

A view of Panama canal construction work on August 20, 2013. The US has a lot riding on a successful expansion of the Panama canal More than four years ago, when Panama awarded the lucrative contract to expand its inter-oceanic canal to a mostly European consortium, the United States was not pleased. An American company whose bid was unsuccessful, Bechtel, thought the winning tender would barely pay for pouring the concrete and that the consortium would probably try to renegotiate the price at some stage during the construction process. Some might argue that those American doubts have been justified, especially in view of the ongoing economic row between the European consortium and the Panamanian government agency that runs the waterway. The spat has threatened to bring work to a grinding halt , unless the two parties manage to resolve a $1.6bn (£1bn) dispute over cost overruns. A series of […]

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