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The expansion project at the Panama Canal has cost $5 billion and taken nearly a decade to finish since construction started back in 2007. Fast forward 9 years, the Panama Canal is set to open next month with a wider and deeper channel through which larger ships may pass. It has been a long road for the canal expansion project which has seen cost increases, labor fights, and legal disputes. Finally, on June 26th, the Panama Canal will see its first test when China Cosco Shipping will send one of its largest vessels through the Canal on its maiden voyage. Nils Haupt of Hapag-Lloyd, says the industry can now use its so-called neo-Panamax ships. “These vessels hold 3 times the number of containers that fit on the largest ships passing through canal now. If you have bigger ships, you know you can just take one big ship instead of two smaller ships, which is a huge advantage for shipping lines,” Haupt said. The only downside in all of this is that the canal expansion is opening during a hard financial time for the shipping industry. The new large vessels are can hold much more capacity than those currently but the demand is being threatened by the global economic environment. Read more.

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