Expanded $5 billion Panama Canal opens
Panama’s expansion of its storied canal has finally opened following a decade of construction time and $5 billion spent. The expansion has been billed to double current cargo levels, and has been delivered in spite of cost troubles, questions regarding its design and a global slump in shipping.
Anders Boenaes, vice president at Maersk, said: "They would have probably maintained the current level of activity at best by not doing it, but now by having done it they can win back what was changed to the Suez over the past five, eight, 10 years."
The new locks have been designed to minimise water use - reusing up to 60 percent. But Panama's artificial Lake Gatun, the source of canal and much of the country's drinking water, will have to provide twice as much water to operate both the original and new locks of the canal.
Neo-Panamax ship operators have also voiced concerns, stating that the new locks only leave room for a very small margin of error and are beset by sharp turns and sheer rock walls.
What remains to be seen is whether the newly expanded canal can deliver the economic benefit to the country, while providing an essential service and competitive edge for international shippers.