The Panama Canal

Last week, looking for some information about Maersk I read that some Maersk vessels aren’t able to cross the Panama Canal because of their size. In a few months, these vessels and many more will be able to cross it.

Panama Canal is located in the middle of the American country, between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Its length is 78 kilometers and it’s one of the most important Canals in the world.


In 1880 a French company tried to build it but it failed. After that, on August 15, 1914, it was officially opened. Along its construction over 30,000 workers died and it cost approximeately 400 million dollars. This Canal makes faster the comercial interchange and relatively reduces costs between the two oceans. Until today, its five main users have been the United States, China, Chile, Japan and South Corea.

Nowadays and since 2007, it is being carried out an expansion project which will allow crossing of bigger vessels along the Panama Canal. So, this project will speed up the worldwide transport.

Since the project started there have been a lot of problems, recently its construction was completely stopped because of the lack of liquidity.

In summary, the project consists of three parties:

  • Construction of two new lock complexes, one on the Atlantic side and another on the Pacific. Locks raise ship from sea level up to the level of inland waterways, they are wider and more efficient.
  • Excavation of new access canals to the new locks and widening of existing navigational channels.
  • Deepening of the navigation canals and elevation of the operational water level of Gatun Lake.

New Panamax ships will be the largest that can cross the new locks.


And new U.S ports are being prepared for Panamax vessels.

The Panama Canal expansion project is expected to be finished in 2015 and people talk about 1,600 million dollars, an incredible cost!!

Curious things:

  • Since its inauguration about 1,000,000 vessels have crossed it.
  • The tonne cost is 2.20 dollars.
  • The Maersk Dellys established a new tollbooth record – 274,590 dollars on May 8, 2007.
  • With the excavation rests we could built a replicate of the Great Wall of China from San Francisco till New York.
  • The average is about 12,000 vessels a year.
  • The cargo record was on December 15, 1981. An Arco Texas vessel loaded 65,299 tonnes of oil.

From my point of view, this project could suppose an enormous change in logistical transportation but I also think it’s a very expensive project which has a lot of dirty rags behind.

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