At long last, the $5.3 billion expansion of the Panama Canal is set to open later this month. This week, tugboats commenced test runs loading a bulk cargo vessel into the first of three locks on the Atlantic side of the canal. The formal opening of the expanded canal is scheduled for June 26th, almost two years behind schedule. The expansion should double the canal’s capacity by allowing for substantially larger vessels and vessels carrying liquefied natural gas. According to the canal’s website, the expanded canal “will provide greater economies of scale to global commerce as Neopanamax (formerly called Post-Panamax) ships, which can transport approximately three times the amount of containers than a Panamax vessel, will be able to transit through due to expansion.” With quicker shipping times from the U.S. Gulf Coast to Asia, the expanded canal is expected to shift certain international trade routes and has encouraged infrastructure upgrades in the U.S. and Caribbean.
For more information about the expansion and testing, please click here.