Panama Canal, Port of Houston renew alliance

19 August 2008 22:20  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--The Panama Canal (ACP) connects two oceans, but it also has a link to Houston, Texas, government sources said on Tuesday.

The Port of Houston is 1,762 miles away from Panama, but the two waterways have been sharing data and best practices information for the past five years and renewed their agreement this week.

Both depend on each other for business now more than ever since the canal is in the midst of a huge expansion. ACP CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta called Houston "a critical US port and key maritime partner," in a statement.

The canal renewed a similar agreement with the Port of New Orleans in June. Houston and New Orleans were the largest US ports in total cargo tonnage in 2006, according to the Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center.

The canal needs the US ports to increase growth for what is called an "all-water route" from Asia to the US East and Gulf coasts through Panama.

In recent years the Canal has been losing business because huge supertankers and post-Panamax-sized ships are too big to go through it.

The Canal expansion project will add a new lane of traffic along the existing locks that will double capacity and, more importantly, allow longer and wider ships, according to the Canal Authority.

The canal's expansion would supposedly make Houston a more attractive port-of-call for Post-Panamax-sized ships, which currently tend to visit ports on the US east coast.

“Our friendship with Panama becomes closer every year," said Houston port director H. Thomas Kornegay in a statement.

($1 = €0.68)

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By: Lane Kelley
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