Shipping companies also have been keeping an eye
on the expansion project and how ports are reacting to
possible changes in the size of ships.
“It is difficult to say at this juncture how much more
volume will pass through the canal, since it heavily
depends on the economic development in general, and
world trade in particular,” Jorgen Harling, vice president, network and product, with Maersk Line, the
Denmark-based division of the A.P. Moller Maersk
Group, said in an e-mail response to questions. “At this
point, Maersk Line is still evaluating its strategy.
“Over the past three years, we have observed that for a
number of carriers, cargo originating in Asia destined to
the U.S. East Coast was being rerouted through the Suez
Canal instead of the Panama Canal. This is mainly due to
the fact that the Suez Canal can support the passage of
larger, post-Panamax vessels, provide lower slot costs and
hence help carriers realize significant savings compared to
traditional cargo routing via the Panama Canal,” he said.
Harling added that he expects that cargo to be
rerouted back through the Panama Canal once the
expansion is completed. ■
The expansion of the Panama Canal will allow the transit
of the new generation of large-capacity container ships.
The Maersk E Series ship Elly Maersk, shown here, is
among the largest container vessels ever built, with a max-
imum capacity of 14,770 twenty-foot-equivalent units.