http://www.engineeringnews.co.za
  SEARCH
Login
R/€ = 13.07Change: 0.09
R/$ = 11.52Change: 0.06
Au 1264.86 $/ozChange: -21.09
Pt 1220.00 $/ozChange: -39.50
 
 
Note: Search is limited to the most recent 250 articles. Set date range to access earlier articles.
Where? With... When?








Start
 
End
 
 
And must exclude these words...
Close Main Search
Close Main Login
My Profile News Alerts Newsletters Logout Close Main Profile
 
Agriculture   Automotive   Chemicals   Competition Policy   Construction   Defence   Economy   Electricity   Energy   Environment   ICT   Metals   Mining   Science and Technology   Services   Trade   Transport & Logistics   Water  
What's On Press Office Tenders Suppliers Directory Research Jobs Announcements Letters Contact Us
 
 
 
RSS Feed
Article   Comments   Other News   Research   Magazine  
 
 
Mar 15, 2013

Panama canal expansion reaches halfway mark

Back
Construction|Engineering|Africa|Cement|CoAL|Concrete|Explosives|Grindrod|Housing|Industrial|Mining|PROJECT|Projects|Safety|System|Water|Africa|Equipment|Explosives|Logistics|Maintenance|Service|Steel|Power|Water|Valves
Construction|Engineering|Africa|Cement|CoAL|Concrete|Explosives|Grindrod|Housing|Industrial|Mining|PROJECT|Projects|Safety|System|Water|Africa|Equipment|Explosives|Logistics|Maintenance|Service|Steel|Power|Water|Valves
construction|engineering|africa-company|cement-company|coal|concrete|explosives|grindrod|housing|industrial|mining|project|projects|safety|system|water-company|africa|equipment|explosives-industry-term|logistics|maintenance|service|steel|power|water|valves
© Reuse this



In South African terms, the development of the 4 788 MW Medupi coal-fired power station represents ‘mega-engineering’ in every sense of the word.The price tag of what will be a six-unit facility stands at over R120-billion and, once completed, it will become the world’s largest dry-cooled coal fired power station.

During the construction process (which has been afflicted by disruptive industrial-relations events) Medupi’s labour force will peak at more than 17 000 people and the sleepy town of Lephalale, in Limpopo, will be transformed with new housing units, hotels and shopping centres.

But arguably the world’s most imagination-capturing current mega-engineering projects is the initiative to double the capacity of the Panama Canal by 2015.

The canal, which was initially completed in 1914, links the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans and has since been regarded as a key conduit for international maritime trade.

The expansion plan is driven by necessity and desire. The necessity relates to the dramatic upscaling in the size of container ships, which the existing system is unable to accommodate. The desire is to bolster the canal's competitive position against a range of current of possible future alternatives.

To align the famous waterway with the emergence of super-sized cargo ships, or new Panamax-sized vessels, that carry up to 12 000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) containers, the Panama Canal Expansion aims to materially expand beyond the current capacity constraint of handling vessels carrying around 4 400 TEUs.

Panamax is shipping jargon for the biggest vessels that can traverse the current Panama Canal (the size constraints being the length, width and depth of the canal’s locks) and postpanamax constitutes ships that are too big to use the canal.

At a cost of $5.25-billion, the expansion project is 50% complete, but at least six months behind its eight-year project time schedule. Panama Canal Authority (PCA) administrator Jorge Quijano says the increased capacity of the canal will benefit the shipping trade worldwide.

“We estimate that, based on the progress, we can begin commercial transits mid-2015,” he said. The Panama Canal Expansion Project will be the largest project at the waterway since its original construction in 1914.

The objectives of the expansion project are to ensure that the canal remains competitive, increase its capacity to permit larger vessels, reduce the freshwater consumed in its operation, and increase safety and efficiency, as well as sustain growth in the tonnage transiting the canal and in the profitability of the PCA.

What the Mega-Project Entails
The expansion project entails the construction of new, longer, wider and deeper locks at the Atlantic and Pacific ends of the canal, the widening and deepening of the Atlantic and Pacific approach channels to the canal, the widening and deepening of the navigational channels through the Gaillard Cut and Lake Gatun and increasing Lake Gatun’s operational level from 26.7 m to 27.1 m.

The dredging of the navigational channels is complete, including both canal entrances on the Pacific and Atlantic sides and the Gaillard Cut. The remaining dredging work in the Gatun Lake is scheduled for completion this year.

Excavation of the Pacific lock access channel comprises four phases. Three of the four phases are complete, with phase four currently 70% complete. The project requires the excavation of more than 50-million cubic metres of materials along a 6.1 km stretch of the canal.

By the end of this year, 158 culvert, equalisation and conduit valves, 84 bulkheads and 328 trash racks will have arrived for the project. The valves were built in South Korea by Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries.

Construction of the new locks is 37% complete. The new lock complexes in the Pacific and Atlantic sides will feature three chambers, three water-saving basins per chamber, a lateral filling and emptying system and rolling gates.

The new locks will each be 427 m long, 55 m wide and 18.3 m deep, with a beam of 49 m and a draught of 15.2 m, which can allow ships of up to 366 m in length to use them.

In comparison, the existing locks are each 304.8 m long, 55 m wide and 18.3 m deep, with a beam of 32.3 m and a draught of 12.4 m, which can accommodate ships of up to 294.1 m in length.

The construction of the new locks involves the use of 1 506 t of gel explosives, 3 600 t of ammonium nitrate explosives, 4.9-million cubic metres of concrete, 1.12-million tons of cement to produce that concrete, 436 000 t of pozzolana (volcanic ash or ground slag from a blast furnace) to mix with the concrete, 279 000 t of reinforcement steel for the concrete, 47 200 t of structural steel for the lock gates and 20 000 t of structural steel for the lock valves.

The excavation of the new locks required the removal of 155-million cubic metres of earth, while construction of the existing locks required the removal of 200-million cubic metres. Mining equipment was used to speed up the work.

The canal remains open and operational while the expansion work is continuing.

Trade Routes
The canal’s location, at the narrowest point between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, has had a far-reaching effect on economic and commercial developments worldwide throughout most of this century.

By providing a short, relatively inexpensive passageway between these two oceans, the canal has influenced world trade patterns and spurred growth in developed countries; it has also been a primary impetus for economic expansion in many remote areas of the world, states a report by the PCA.

A vessel laden with coal sailing from the east coast of the US to Japan through the Panama Canal sails about 4 800 km less than any other all-water route.

Most of the traffic through the canal moves between the east coast of the US and the Far East, while movements between Europe and the west coast of the US and Canada comprise the second major trade route of the waterway.

However, other regions and countries, such as the neighbouring countries of Central and South America, are proportionately more dependent on this vital artery to promote their economic development and expand trade.

Since the canal first opened on August 15, 1914, the waterway has provided a transit service to more than 815 000 vessels. Despite the increase in the number and size of the vessels in recent years, the total average time spent by a vessel at the Panama Canal still remains slightly less than 24 hours.

This remarkable level of performance can be attributed to the team of trained professionals trained to providing rapid transit service and to the timely implementation of improvements designed to meet rising traffic demands. About $10-million dollars is spent each year on training programmes to prepare Panamanians for the operation and maintenance of the canal.

“About 30% of vessels travel through the canal. The nature of the improvements in the canal reflects the ever-increasing role of Panamax vessels in the movement of world commerce. Using of the all-water route through the Panama Canal will continue to be an important, cost-effective transportation mode for a significant segment of world trade,” reports the PCA.

History
The French first attempted to link the Atlantic and Pacific oceans at the turn of 20th century, but were defeated by malaria and yellow fever, the heavy rainfalls typical of the tropical rainforest and financial woes. It was left to the US to complete construction of the first two-lane canal and the initial set of locks, which became operational in 1914.

On the eve of World War II, the US attempted to build a second set of locks to allow the transit of larger commercial vessels and warships. The work was started in 1939 but was subsequently aborted because of the war. The canal has since had no major upgrades.

In October 2006, the citizens of Panama voted to expand the Panama Canal to allow for more transits and bigger ships. The international maritime industry will benefit directly from the expansion through lower shipping costs and global consumers will eventually benefit from the greater capacity and efficiency of the canal.

However, media partner for professionals in the logistics of over-dimensional and heavy cargos, Heavy Lift & Project Forwarding International, states that it is likely that there will be another expansion project to cater for 18 000 TEU ships at the Panama Canal.

Most South African shipping firms have stated that the expansion is unlikely to improve or affect their business.

“We don’t believe the expansion project will have a significant impact on trade in South Africa. For Grindrod, specifically, some of our ships carrying grain may use this route, but since they are handysize vessels, the expansion will have no impact on our business,” says Grindrod Shipping CEO Martyn Wade.

Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter
© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Other Transport & Logistics News
Domestic Opel sales grew by 36%, to 3 700 units, last year compared with 2013, says General Motors South Africa (GMSA) operations VP Ian Nicholls. “I would expect to at least double our Opel sales in 2015. That’s the step up you would expect. It’s going to be a big...
Article contains comments
INSTALLATION The system could also pinpoint an aircraft to within two nautical miles
National carrier South African Airways (SAA) is deploying a locally developed satellite payment system, which is also able to track the aircraft anywhere in the world, across its fleet of airliners. The system, developed by satellite authorisation company SatAuth,...
Article contains comments
Port of Saldanha
The establishment of a customs control area (CCA), or free port, within the newly designated Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone (SBIDZ) is being held up as a major drawcard for potential oil and gas services investors into the 330 ha site, situated alongside...
More
 
 
Latest News
Updated 1 hour 34 minutes ago A trading demonstration has showcased the applicability, functionality, utility and readiness of the well-established, commercial and financial electronic infrastructure provided by private-sector commodity registry Silocerts and the JSE as a potential platform for...
Updated 1 hour 45 minutes ago While South African consumers will get a reprieve on the back of a lower oil price, all the potential benefits could be overshadowed by the nation’s ongoing electricity shortages. A surprise cut to below $50/bl for crude oil would soften the blow of rising costs on...
Updated 1 hour 49 minutes ago Labour union Solidarity and carrier Comair will again meet at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) on Monday, after wage negotiations between the parties deadlocked earlier this month. Wage talks between the parties started in September...
More
 
 
Recent Research Reports
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
 
 
 
 
 
This Week's Magazine
BRUCE BRADFORD The 3D printers have a clear upgrade path to eventually print in wood, ceramics and metal-alloys
Three-dimensional (3D) printers being sold in South Africa by electronics distributor Rectron currently print in two types of plastic, but have a clear upgrade path over the next five years to eventually print in wood, ceramics and metal-alloy materials, says Rectron...
The world’s two dominant commercial aircraft manufacturers, Airbus of Europe and Boeing of the US, both recently announced that they had made record aircraft deliveries in 2014. Boeing set a global record for the industry with 723 commercial aircraft delivered, while...
The Western Cape is shifting further into the renewable-energy space with the official opening of a factory specialising in solar inverters, a key component of solar photovoltaic (PV) plants. The investment in the manufacturing facility in Cape Town aims to boost the...
Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) last month welcomed Cabinet’s establishment of a technical team war room to undertake various interventions to improve electricity supply security over the short- and medium-term, but added that the private sector also had a...
Despite a rapid rise in mobile connections and the economic and social benefits of such connectivity, more than half of the world ended 2014 unconnected. For this reason, industry commentators believe the biggest impact of mobile technology is still to come –...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alert Close
Embed Code Close
content
Research Reports Close
Research Reports are a product of the
Research Channel Africa. Reports can be bought individually or you can gain full access to all reports as part of a Research Channel Africa subscription.
Find Out More Buy Report
 
 
Close
Engineering News
Completely Re-Engineered
Experience it now. Click here
*website to launch in a few weeks