New Panama Canal Opens

 

A newly expanded Panama Canal has opened for international trade. The enlarged canal can now handle larger ocean ships. 90% of the world's tankers can pass through the new Panama Canal, compared to only 6% of the global fleet before the expansion. The project cost a total of 5 billion dollars and was , at first, expected to be completed two years ago to mark the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal.

A new lane for traffic has been created. The two original lanes through the canal have become wider and deeper. A new set of locks has also been constructed. Ships carrying up to 13,000 containers can now pass through the canal.

The new Panama Canal will have a  great impact on the world's shipping lanes. For many large ships, the travel time from the eastern to the western coast of the United States will be reduced  by half. Ships will also be able to save on fuelthus cutting transport costs considerably. 65% of the cargo that uses the waterway is destined for US ports. International trade will also profit from a larger canal.  Especially giant liquid gas tankers travelling from the Gulf Coast to Asian markets  will profit from the expansion. Such vessels on their way to Japan will now make the journey through the canal in 20 days ,compared to the 34 days it takes around the Cape of Good Hope

Before the expansion only 3% of the world's trade moved through the canal . Now it's capacity will double. Panama will also make more money from passing ships. The enlargement of the canal has been a prestigious  event for the small Central American country.


The Panama Canal was built in 1914 by the United States. The surrounding Canal Zone was controlled by the United States until 1977. In 1999 the canal itself was handed over to Panama's government.

 

New Panama Canal Locks on the Atlantic side

New set of locks on the Atlantic side of the canal - Image : Ivo Kruusamägi

 

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Words

  • anniversary = date on which something special happened in the past
  • billion = a thousand million
  • Canal Zone= land that the United States controlled  5 miles to both sides of the canal
  • capacity = here: the amount of cargo that the canal can deal with
  • Cape of Good Hope = southern tip of Africa where the Atlantic meets the Indian Ocean
  • cargo = goods that are carried by a ship, airplane or train
  • carry = transport
  • compared to = when looking at two things side by side
  • complete = finish
  • considerably = very much
  • construct = build
  • cut = lower, reduce
  • destined = intended for , going to
  • enlarge = to make bigger
  • enlargement = when something becomes bigger
  • especially = above all
  • expand = to make something bigger
  • expansion = when something gets larger and bigger
  • expected = thought
  • fleet = ships that travel for a certain country
  • fuel = oil or gas that a ship needs to travel
  • giant = very large
  • global = worldwide
  • government = people who rule a country
  • hand over = give to someone
  • handle = here: let through
  • impact = influence
  • international trade = when countries buy from and sell goods to each other
  • lane = path for ships
  • liquid = fluid, watery
  • locks = part of a canal that is closed off by gates, so that the water level can be raised or lowed in order to move ships along
  • mark = show, be a sign of
  • port = place where ships load and unload goods
  • prestigious = respected, admired
  • reduce = lower
  • shipping lane = pathway that a ship travels along
  • surround = land around it
  • tanker = a ship that can carry large amounts of gas or oil
  • thus = therefore
  • vessel = ship
  • waterway = river or canal
  • wide = not narrow