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Panama Canal begins $5.25bn widening project

Panama: Work has begun today on the $5.25bn expansion project that will double capacity on the 80km Panama Canal, allowing it to accommodate 'post-Panamax' vessels that can carry 12,000teu. The project, which is the first major expansion at the strip of sea connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans in it's 92 year history, is scheduled for completion by 2014 - marking 100 years since its inception.

The wider canal is expected to lower the price of consumer goods on the US East Coast as it will allow greater quantities of cargo to be transported at a time. Vessel cargo capacity on the canal is currently restricted to 5,000teu.

An estimated 13,000-14,000 ships transit the canal each year, accounting for approximately 5% of annual world commerce.  [04/09/07]

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