Eleven new services have been opened in the Panama Canal waterway since its expansion, the canal authority said. Furthermore, the number of services offered is expected to grow further as global shipping lines are redrawn to take advantage of the canal’s economies of scale.
“The Expanded Canal has had a global ripple effect on maritime trade,” said the Panama Canal’s Strategic Relations Manager Marianela Dengo.
“However, the true impact will be felt gradually over the long-term, and we’re very excited for the growth still to come,” she added.
Ports to Benefit From the Expansion
Specifically, the ports along the U.S. East Coast have benefited considerably from the canal’s expansion. Furthermore, January of this year was a record month for many U.S. East Coast ports, including the Ports of Charleston, Philadelphia, and Savannah, which recorded 28 per cent, 34 per cent and 16 per cent container volume growths, in totality.
Ports in Virginia and Baltimore also saw record-breaking volumes in 2016. The Port of Virginia handled more than 2.65 million TEUs, a 4.2 per cent increase compared to 2015, while the Port of Baltimore handled more than 10 million tons of general cargo and a record number of containers.
“This growth can be attributed, in part, to the Canal, which has and will continue to draw additional cargo volumes to the region, as ports continue to expand,” ACP mentioned in a press release.
Millions of Dollars to Be Invested in the Upcoming Projects
In Florida, PortMiami is considered “Big Ship Ready,” after having completed more than 1 billion USD in infrastructure improvements, including its Deep Dredge Project. The project was responsible for increasing Miami’s channel depth up to 52 feet, and allowing the port to welcome its first Neopanamax vessel on July 9, 2016.
Other ports, such as the Ports of Virginia and Charleston, have plans to invest millions of dollars for dredging projects, infrastructure improvements and other work to enhance their logistics capabilities. The Port of New York and New Jersey recently announced plans to increase investments to 200 million USD at the Port Elizabeth facility.
Tonnage Records Being Set After the Expansion
At the start of this year, the Panama Canal set a new monthly tonnage record of 36.1 million Panama Canal tons (PC/UMS), with the transit of 1,260 ships through both the expanded and original locks, the canal authority announced.
Other projects done in the expansion program included the construction of a new set of locks on the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the waterway and the excavation of more than 150 million cubic meters of material, creating a second lane of traffic and doubling the cargo capacity of the waterway.
The expanded locks are 70 feet wider and 18 feet deeper than those in the original canal.
Seven months after the beginning of operations, the expanded canal has been transited by more than 750 Neopanamax vessels.
These exciting new developments will surely affect ships as well as the freight and cargo industry that ply the Panama Canal, as well as the thriving offshore back office solutions industry that supports it.