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Panama Canal Authority, canal builders reach lasting peace agreement

THE Panama Canal Authority (ACP) and the Grupo Unidos por el Canal de Panama (GUPC), the multinational consortium building the canal expansion, have reached an agreement "allowing the ongoing project to continue until completion".

Panama Canal Authority, canal builders reach lasting peace agreement
05 August 2014 - 21:30
Panama Canal Authority, canal builders reach lasting peace agreement

THE Panama Canal Authority (ACP) and the Grupo Unidos por el Canal de Panama (GUPC), the multinational consortium building the canal expansion, have reached an agreement "allowing the ongoing project to continue until completion".

This incorporates a tentative agreement signed in March into the original contract between the GUPC and ACP after several months of disputes over cost overruns, which included strikes.

"What remains now is to continue working with the commitment to complete the expansion, which is currently at a 78 per cent progress," said ACP administrator Jorge Quijano, reported Platts, a McGraw Hill commodities portal.

The original completion date for the US$5.3 billion expansion project was October 2014, but the latest estimate is for a December 2015 completion, with operations starting in January 2016.

The parties are in the eighth year of a project to add a third set of locks to the canal that crosses a 80-kilometre (50 miles) isthmus connecting the Pacific with the Atlantic.

The expansion is needed to accommodate newer, larger ships that are too large to fit in the canal. The current locks can fit vessels that carry 5,000 TEU and the expansion would allow 13,000 TEUers. 

The GUPC consortium is comprised of four main contractors: Spain's Sacyr Vallehermoso, Italy's Impregilo, Belgium's Jan de Nul Group and Panama's Constructora Urbana.

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