Uncertainty in World Port-Shipping Industry over Disputed in the Panama Canal
The position taken by the Administrator of the Panama Canal to the pretensions of a major contractor, solved the suspension of expansion works.
Despite having solved the problem with the contractor GUPC (led by Spanier Sacyr), which led to provisionally suspend the Panama Canal expansion works, the uncertainty generated since the beginning of the year, that will bring as a consequence an increase in costs and a new delay in its completion, deserves the transcription of the following article in La Prensa of Panama, past January 10th:
The global shipping industry has their radars on the Canal expansion project, before the notice of suspension of the work of the third set of locks. The port operators around the world, many of whom invest in dredging and expansion of its terminals to accommodate access channels to the size of the postpanamax boats, which transit through the new locks are pending from this project.
The port terminals of Central America, the Caribbean, South America, and particularly Eastern United States, suitable facilities, whereas they are part of the route that will take the megaship, heading to Asia, which will pass through the expanded Canal. Through the Panama Canal passes more of the 5% world trade and up to 30% cargo moving to and from the ports of the region. With the expansion is expected to double this number. The capacity of the sea route will increase from 300 million tons to 600 million with the new locksThe capacity of the sea route will increase from 300 million tons to 600 million with the new locks. The port of Miami already began a modernization project for more than $2 billion. And the possible suspension of construction of new locks, after the conflict between the Consortium Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) and the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), generated tension in the administration of that port. If the channel extended beyond 2015 the inauguration of the third set of locks, ports and shipping business plans would be affect. From there that the industry is paying attention to what happens with the work of enlargement in charge of GUPC, which threatened to suspend the work for financial problems and cost overruns reaching $600 thousand million dollars.
Bill Johnson, director of the port of Miami, said that he hopes that the dispute can be resolved soon. “The port of Miami is on track to complete a number of important infrastructure improvements in coordination with the much-anticipated opening of the expansion of the Panama Canal in 2015”, he explained. The port of Miami seeks to adapt the depth to 50 feet that require ships postpanamax. Among the projects undertaken is the dredging of the port of load, which has an investment of $ 220 million, and a tunnel under the Bay of Miami, at a cost of $ 1 billion. Similarly, the construction of a railway is expected to transport containers to distribution centers charge at Miami International Airport and Jacksonville. Improvements in infrastructure and equipment in this U.S. port correspond to the interest to be ready to meet the demand expected in the maritime trade by the enlargement of via. The rest of the ports on the coast in this American also have expansion plans.
Towards South America, there is also concern, although the Chilean shipping industry pointed out that the national burden should not be seen affected directly by the differences between GUPC and the ACP. Speaking to printed media of Chile, general manager of the National Association of Shipowners, Arturo Sierra, recalled the importance that has this route for the foreign trade of the country. And that about 30% of the total number of goods, which has as a point of origin and destination Chile, moves through the inter-oceanic. “The channel is a very good alternative for our foreign trade, because about 25 million to 27 million tons of it flows through there. We are the third client of the channel in freight origin and destination,” said Sierra. The hope of the shipping industry focuses on the opportunity to transport a greater volume of freight to get out. “This greater capacity which will be the channel with the expansion of their locks might have some effect in lower transportation costs and why we should keep this via open and that enlargement is available as soon as possible,” concluded Sierra.
First Monday of January the Canal administration reaffirmed its commitment with the international maritime community to complete successfully the extension program. “We’d assure our customers that the ACP has always worked with the best intentions to make the contractor to complete the project; “equally that the contract includes warranties and alternatives that will allow the institution to develop successfully the project”, said the administrator of the Panama Canal, Jorge Luis Quijano, in a note sent to the users. To date, the widening of the Canal recorded a total advance of 72%, while the construction of the new locks a 65% in advance. In the note signed by Quijano, the ACP reiterated that the inter-oceanic operations are continuing normally and that the situation with the contractor in one of the projects of the extension program, does not have any impact on the operations of the Canal.