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Panama Canal expansion continues, but at a slower pace

Panama Canal expansion continues, but at a slower pace
The suspension deadline from the consortium building the locks for the expanded Panama Canal passed on 20 January, however construction continues, but at a quarter of the pace previously. 

Grupo Unidos Por el Canal (GUPC), comprising Spain’s Sacyr, Italy’s Impregilo, Belgium Jan de Nul and Panamanian CUSA, released a communique on Monday in which it offered the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) to “co-finance the unexpected costs in order to continue the works and maintain the work force of about 10,000 people employed, thereby achieving the completion of the project in 2015. GUPC stands united and has always taken unitary decisions; it is not asking for extra profits but for the co-financing of the unforeseen costs pending the decision of the international arbitration.”

GUPC explained that, “The resources financed by the Canal Authority are fully covered by bank guarantees and insurance obtained by the consortium pending the outcome and final decision of the arbitrators on the responsibilities of these extra costs.”

The consortium added: “Technically speaking, nothing prevents us from reaching the finishing line. The only impediment is the difficult financial situation which has arisen due to the additional costs which occurred during the execution of the works, for which GUPC has requested relief.”

However, the ACP, commenting on GUPC’s proposal, told Seatrade Global that there is “no possibility to reach any accord outside the contract [signed by the consortium and the ACP] and any offers should be formally presented to the ACP.”

Canal officials are due to meet 21 January with the Swiss Insurance Company Zurich to discuss the state of the works and the future of the construction of the locks, which have reached a 65% of execution, while the total canal expansion is at 72%.