Wednesday, June 22

The Risky Bet That is the Panama Canal

Interesting article in the New York Times about the mess that the new Panama Canal project has turned out to be.

After an intense two-year competition, a consortium led by a Spanish company in severe financial distress learned that its rock-bottom bid of $3.1 billion had won the worldwide competition to build a new set of locks for the historic Panama Canal.

The unlikely victors toasted their win at La Vitrola, a sleek restaurant in an upscale neighborhood east of downtown Panama City. Within days, executives of the four-nation consortium, Grupo Unidos por el Canal, flew to Europe to begin planning the project.

This time, there would be no champagne. Disputes quickly erupted over how to divide responsibilities. Some executives appeared not to fully grasp how little money they had to complete a complex project with a tight deadline and a multicultural team whose members did not always see things the same way.

Internal arguments soon gave way to bigger problems. There would be work stoppages, porous concrete, a risk of earthquakes and at least $3.4 billion in disputed costs: more than the budget for the entire project.

Not really related is the top video.  It shows a massive container ship crashing into a train as it is being pulled through the Panama Canal.