Repairs to the Panama Canal’s new locks will be more extensive than previously indicated, while the completion date remains uncertain.
In August, severe leakages were found in the concrete sill separating the lower and middle chambers of the Cocoli Locks on the Pacific side. The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has warned GUPC, the consortium building the locks, that it “would not accept the current works until flaws are fixed”.
On 30 September, the ACP announced that it had been informed by GUPC that “the localised seepage was the result of insufficient steel reinforcement in the area which was subjected to stress from extreme condition testing”.
“After careful examination of all the other sills in both lock complexes, GUPC stated that in addition to reinforcing the sill that presented the issue, they would also reinforce the first and second sill in the Cocoli Locks and the first three sills in the Atlantic-facing Agua Clara Locks as a preventative measure, though these sills have not presented any issue,” said the ACP.
For the shipping industry, the central issue is whether and to what extent leak repairs will delay the commercial opening of the expanded Panama Canal. The ACP said on 30 September that “GUPC verbally indicated that the completion date for the expansion project will remain April 2016, as planned. However, the ACP is awaiting formal confirmation from GUPC, in the form of a comprehensive report, which should also include the root cause of the detected filtrations.”