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October 5, 2012
The freight forwarding and heavy lift division of the Geodis Group, Geodis Wilson, has been awarded a $50 million contract by steel manufacturer Cimolai. The company will manage the transport of 16 lock gates, each weighing more than 4,000 tons, for the the expansion of the Panama Canal. This transport will be historically one of the most crucial heavy-lift transports that the marine transportation industry has ever seen.
The new lock gates are part of the large-scale expansion plan by the Panama Canal Authority that is set to double the canals capacity by 2015. The $5.25 billion Panama Canal expansion project will enable the canal to allow larger ships to pass through more frequently by way of improving the canals lock system and also dredging the existing navigational channels. The project is expected to remake world trade patterns by connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans thus changing the nature of the global shipping industry, as we know it. .
Voted in by the Panamanian people in October of 2006, the expansions original timeline stated that the operation would be completed in 8 years (by 2014). But due to worker strikes ands severe rains, the gates and locks sector of the project has been delayed 6 months. It is now estimated that the expansion will be complete in April 2015. The transport and arrival of the new locks next year is certainly a sign that the project is progressing. It is also reported that although the renovation and construction of the new gates and locks systems is behind schedule, the dredging sector is way ahead of schedule, which is certainly good news for the overall completion of the operation.
The transport of the 4,000-ton lock gates will be spread out over the year in 2013. An initial vessel, carrying four of the gates will depart from Italy in February 2013 and will be followed by a further three shipments throughout the year. The project is scheduled for completion in December 2013. Geodis Wilson Italy’s Industrial Projects department has developed a unique lashing system to secure the gates safety during transport, which will be via semi-submersible vessels from Italy to Panama. “Geodis Wilson’s role as a key transport provider in one of the world’s most demanding infrastructure projects underlines both, our outstanding competence in managing complex heavy-lift shipments and our significance in the global ocean freight sector,” comments Pierre Blayau, Chairman and CEO of Geodis Group. This transport, which is set for 2013, is just one of the many heavy-lift, break-bulk marine transports that are required for an offshore expansion project of this scale. Ocean Trade Lines is a well-known global marine shipping company operating out of Southeastern United States that specializes in these types of transports. “We work closely with the manufacturers and the project authorities that oversee these types of projects. We have every means and every capability imaginable to carry out these types of major transport operations that have worldwide impact,” said Kostas Constant, Operations Manager at Ocean Trade Lines. Global shipping companies like Geodis Wilson and Ocean Trade Lines that specialize in marine transportation have a vital role to play when it comes to these types of international trade projects as their competence has a direct effect on the outcome of the operation.
There is no question that the expansion of the Panama Canal has already had and will continue to have major effects on the marine transportation industry. Once the project is complete in 2015, the worldwide shipping industry will change forever, as the new and improved canal will create brand new trade routes connecting the eastern and western worlds. Now that it is known when the gates will be transported to the construction site, it is safe to say that change is just around the corner.
Written By: Admin