In a development that will have far reaching implications for all trade lanes, including the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent, the inaugural transit of the Panama Canal expansion has recently taken place. The first vessel to transit through the new canal extension was COSCO Shipping Panama, which has been renamed to honour and pay respect to the country of Panama and the Canal.
The canal expansion will provide greater economies of scale to global commerce. It will also introduce new routes, liner services, and segments such as LNG, to the Canal.
At the opening, Panamanian President, Juan Carlos Varela, said:” Our commitment to provide value to our customers remains paramount. Today, we make history and improve global connectivity. We thank our customers for their support and appreciate the 170 reservations we have received thus far to transit the expanded canal.”
The expansion program is the Canal’s largest enhancement project. It included the construction of a new set of locks on the Atlantic and Pacific side of the waterway and the excavation of more than 150 million m3 of material, creating a second lane of traffic and doubling the cargo capacity of the waterway. While the expanded locks are 70 ft (21.34m) wider and 18 ft (%.49m) deeper than those in the original Canal, they use less water due to water saving basins that recycle 60 % of the water used per transit.