The Panama Canal, the biggest driver of the Panama City economy, is set to unveil a $6 billion expansion next year, a construction project which has put the international spotlight on the city’s growth story. The project will create a state-of-the-art shipping venue capable of handling the massive “Post-Panamax” ships that will soon rule the oceans.
But there is already talk of a much bigger expansion of the Canal in the works. The Panama Canal Authority is moving forward with plans to develop a fourth set of locks to accommodate the next generation of super tankers, Jorge Quijano, head of the Authority, told reporters.
Discussion about a fourth set of locks is not new, but it is now under “serious” consideration, Mr. Quijano says. “Looking at our geology and the experience we gained with this current expansion, we estimate it’s a project that could cost between $16 billion and $17 billion,” he told Reuters.
The expansion would make Panama competitive with Egypt’s Suez Canal, and might take 15 years to complete, he said.
It’s easy to speculate whether Nicaragua’s talk of building a canal is spurring this discussion. As we noted earlier, there is already skepticism that there is enough business interest to support a new canal.
Either way, the discussion is important for the Panama City real estate market. The Canal is a tremendous cog for the economy, and more expansion work means more construction companies, designers and support organizations setting up operations in the city, generating more buyers and sellers.
The potential of a future Canal expansion will be a story worth watching, as Panama continues to invest in its future.
Duncan McGowan is president of Punta Pacifica Realty, a Panama real estate agency focused on Punta Pacifica, the exclusive neighborhood of 18 towers perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.