A construction consortium from Spain, Mexico and Costa Rica has outbid three other competitors for the second-largest contract awarded in the Panama Canal’s $5.2-billion Third Lane Expansion effort, eclipsed only by the price tag for design and construction of the waterway’s new locks.
Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas S.A., along with Mexico’s Empresas ICA and Constructora MECO of Costa Rica, submitted a bid of $268 million for the fourth and final contract to construct a 6.7-kilometer-long access channel on the canal’s Pacific side. Also submitting were a team led by Panama City-based ISC Panamá, which bid $295 million; Belgian dredging firm Jan de Nul and China’s CHEC, which bid $359 million; and one from Brazilian contractor Odebrecht at $380 million.
“We are pleased to see that the competition among top construction companies has resulted in bids that are within the budget,” says Jorge L. Quijano, executive vice president of engineering and program management for the Panama Canal Authority, the waterway’s quasi-governmental oversight body. Officials will award the contract in early 2010.
When completed in 2014, the Third Lane Expansion is set to double the canal’s cargo capacity. The project will increase the number of vessels that can travel its 80-km-long length and allow passage of post-Panamax ships that now cannot be accommodated. The new access channel is required to connect the canal’s existing navigation channel and new locks to be built on the waterway’s Pacific side.