Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), the contractor responsible for the Panama Canal expansion program, has brought to full operability the Third Set of Locks, the company said, meaning that the operation of the locks has been satisfactorily tested according to the specifications of the Panama Canal Authority.
“The project is ready to receive the first ships, proving that it works to perfection as we fully meet the requirements of the contract. Today, as in all these years, we have proven GUPC’s technical ability in delivering a high-quality, fully functioning project. The results of the tests confirm that we have a world-class system,” said Giuseppe Quarta, chief executive of GUPC.
For the consortium, reaching the complete operability of the work meant the successful completion of more than 2,000 tests on both sides of the project, the programming of more than 300 different scenarios for the passage of a ship and more than 120 trials in order to ensure that the hydraulic functioning of the project amply exceeds the requirements and other obligations, GUPC explained.
The Authority of the Panama Canal (ACP) said that it would now carry out a detailed review of the report presented, in order to proceed with the corresponding actions and respond to the contractor, prior to accepting the work and starting operations scheduled for June 26 with the inaugural transit.
Panama Canal Administrator Jorge Luis Quijano said that the progress of the contractor opens the door to a new stage of development in which “our staff will continue to familiarize themselves with the works and the operation of the new locks and complement their navigation training before the acceptance of the works is issued.”
The amount of rainfall in the Canal watershed in the past week has made it possible for the ACP to suspend the second draft restriction that was in effect since April 29, 2016.
Therefore, the maximum authorized transit draft for vessels transiting the Panamax locks will be increased to 11.89 m (39.0 feet) Tropical Fresh Water (TFW).
The new locks, set to be inaugurated on June 26, 2016, will allow for the passage of between 10 and 12 Neopanamax vessels in approximately 40 daily transits through the Panama Canal.
The long-awaited expansion project is estimated to have cost over USD 6 billion.