Region: Ports and Panamax
For the second time in a century, a canal in Panama is changing the way in which ships carry cargo around the world.
In 1914, the original canal shortened shipping times between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
The inauguration of a second Panamanian waterway, expected in 2015, will create opportunities for ports in the western hemisphere, which adapt to changing conditions.
It will also mean more business for intermediate shippers.
The new canal will take vessels, called Post Panamax, which carry up to the equivalent of 13,000 twenty-foot container units (TEUs), and which need at least 15 meters of water, in which to dock.
The maximum size of ships using the existing canal is 8,000 TEUs.
Several ports in the United States and South America, especially Brazil, can – or will soon be able to - accomodate Post Panamax vessels.
But except for Panama, no country in Central America, and none in the Caribbean or Mexico, has a port deep enough to receive the big boats.
Buenaventura in Colombia, Kingston in Jamaica and Freeport in the Bahamas, are analyzing dredging operations.
In other cases, maritime logistics will increasingly involve transshipment of cargo from Post Panamax vessels in major ports to smaller ships, which serve the rest of the region.