Supply Chain News / Ocean / Ports

Panama Canal Counts Down

The ball has dropped in Times Square but Panama is still counting.

January 6, 2014

"The Panama Canal has strengthened its role in international trade, while contributing to the country’s development,” said Panama Canal Administrator Jorge L. Quijano.

On the countdown to its centennial in 2014, the Panama Canal is celebrating 14 years under Panamanian administration. The Panamanian management model has enabled the efficient and safe operation of the Canal, allowing it to offer a world-class service, said the canal authority.

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has improved its service to world maritime trade through the permanent maintenance and modernization of its infrastructure. Approximately, US$2 billion have been invested since 2000.

During the fiscal year 2014 (October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014), the ACP will invest approximately US$238 million in maintenance of structures and equipment to continue providing an efficient service to the international maritime community, the canal authority reported.

In 2007, the Panama Canal Expansion Program began as a result of a widespread approval by Panamanians in a national referendum. The Expansion Program will create a new lane of traffic along the Canal by building a new set of locks which will allow the transit of bigger ships with more capacity. This is the greatest modernization project of the waterway since it was opened in 1914.

To date, the Expansion Program is 70.7 percent complete with several components completed such as the dredging of the Atlantic and Pacific entrances, while the construction of the new locks is 64 percent complete. During the past six years, the Expansion Program has generated 31,000 direct jobs.

Panama Canal Expansion Program Progress (as of November 30, 2013)

Project Progress
Excavation of the Pacific locks access channel 80.3%
Dredging of the Atlantic side Canal entrance 100%
Dredging of the Pacific side Canal entrance 100%
Dredging of Gatun Lake and Culebra Cut 84%
Design and construction of new locks 64%
Raising Gatun Lake's maximum operating level 57%
TOTAL 70.7%

The Panama Canal will celebrate its centennial on August 15, 2014.
As part of the centennial countdown, the Panama Canal Authority began on August 15, 2013 a calendar of activities to celebrate the milestones that led to its opening, such as the first lockage and the 100 years of dredging Culebra Cut, which removed the last barrier during its construction.
The Panama Canal will commemorate other important historical milestones linked to the waterway’s operation and its importance to world maritime trade, while highlighting the aspects that have made the Panama Canal an international symbol.

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