Category Archives: Ports

Gates for third new lock reach Panama Canal expansion site

Photo courtesy of Panama Canal Authority

Photo courtesy of Panama Canal Authority

The Panama Canal expansion has reached another important milestone with the transfer of the first gates to the new locks complex on the Atlantic side. The first of the four gigantic gates that will serve this, the third lock, has now been installed.

The gates left Trieste in Italy by ship on 18 May 2014, and have now joined four others that were delivered during the summer last year. The remaining eight gates planned for the project are scheduled to be delivered by next year.

Italian-Spanish consortium GUPC (Groupo Unidos per el Canal SA) is in charge of the project, with MWH Global appointed to lead the design with TetraTech (USA) and Iv-Infra (Netherlands). The gates have been built in Italy by the Salini-Impregilo group.

Photo courtesy of Panama Canal Authority

Photo courtesy of Panama Canal Authority

Each of the lock gates is 57.6m long, 11m wide, 30m tall and weighs in at a whopping 3,000 tons. Instead of being hinged, the new gates – which are hollow – will slide, opening or closing in a time of 4 to 5 minutes.

To date, about 77% of the work on the expanded Panama Canal has been completed. Although it was hoped that work would be completed this year to coincide with the Panama Canal’s 100th anniversary, it is now projected that the enhanced canal will open in 2016.

Once open, it will allow the passage of Post-Panamax ships between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Post-Panamax vessels are nearly 400m long, and capable of transporting 13,000 containers – nearly triple current capacity.

By Gail Taylor

Written By admin 
July 24, 2014 11:03 am
Posted In Ports, TRANSPORT

Smarter Mobility: an evening of debate hosted by Intelligence Squared

Smarter Mobility_Web Res-191

This debate, held at The Royal Institute of Great Britain and supported by Shell, aimed address the question of delivering smarter mobility options in ever-increasingly congested megacities, such as Los Angeles and Sao Paulo. Leading the line were five of the field’s most innovative thinkers, brought together in an effort to sketch out the future of smart mobility, and was chaired by Matthew Taylor, the Chief Executive of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).


Professor Paul Newman
A Professor of Engineering and leader of the Mobile Robotics Group at the University of Oxford, Professor Newman is an expert in driverless vehicle technology. He argued that, while the growth of driverless technology was inevitable, it will not occur overnight. Rather, the proliferation of autonomous vehicles will be a gradual progression. Key to this, Professor Newman stated, was the ability of vehicles to interpret their surroundings and learn without the help of external inputs such as GPS.

Robin Chase
Founder and CEO of Buzzcar, as well as co-founder and former CEO of Zipcar, Robin is a pioneer in the car-sharing marketplace. Focusing on the potential benefits of a city fully embracing car-sharing schemes, Robin observed that the development of car-sharing schemes would reduce the number of vehicles on the road, highlighting the vast majority of time personally owned cars spend parked and unused. This development also spells the proposition of the most functional, appropriate vehicles being made available to users at opportune times.

Jerry Saunders
Jerry is the CEO of Skytran, a company developing a rapid transit system that utilises maglev technology. Skytran, a NASA Space Act Company, has initially been developing this system for Tel Aviv. Skytran’s transportation pods run along tracks fitted above street level, and can travel at speeds of 100-200 kmph. Skytran will be capable of taking up to 11,500 passengers per hour on each guideline, with each pod using only one third of the energy of a hybrid car. When questioned on the greatest challenge facing this ambitious project, Jerry responded that it was not technological or developmental, but rather obstacles created by governments unable to fully understand and categorise this transportation alternative.

Ben Hamilton-Baillie
Ben is an urban designer and one of the leading proponents of the idea of ‘shared space’, a proposed solution to city congestion that involves the removal of street furniture and traffic controls. This low-tech and cheap congestion solution will increase road safety and vehicle flow by increasing user awareness of fellow users sharing the space around them, Ben argued.

David Rowan
The final speaker, David Rowan, editor of the UK edition of WIRED, attempted to tie together the various solutions proposed today. Key to David’s final messsage was the requirement of societies to reduce their fixation on personal ownership and embrace the idea of collective information, resources and ownership in the pursuit of smarter mobility.


The event concluded with a Q&A during which concerns raised by the audience focused on issues such as the transportation of goods, and what driverless cars and car-sharing schemes meant for those holding a passion for vehicles themselves. The first concern was met with a general consensus that there remains a considerable way to go in the development of goods transportation systems, especially within cities themselves. The second issue was handled by Professor Newman, who, reiterating an earlier point, argued that technology exists to provide its users with choices, and that an individual wishing to continue driving their own car will be free to do so.

Alexander Malden

Concordia Parbuckling Operation a Success as Stricken Liner Righted

concordia world infrastructure news 1

In a “parbluckling” operation of unprecedented scale, Italian and American engineers have succeeded in bringing the stricken Costa Concordia cruise liner to a fully upright position where it ran aground off the coast of Giglio.

It took US firm Titan Salvage and Italian engineering company Micoperi all of Monday and most of Monday night to bring the ship to “degree zero” using cables and metal flotation tanks, whereupon it rested onto six underwater platforms constructed 30m below sea level.

Both the size of the Concordia and the fact it had come to rest on an underwater precipice made the operation the most difficult of its kind to date.

concordia world infrastructure news 3

As the Concordia was rolled in the water the massive damage dealt to its starboard side during the capsizing was laid bear. The parbuckling was declared complete shortly after 02:00 GMT on Tuesday. The head of Italy’s Civil Protection Authority, Franco Gabrielli, announced the Concordia is now sitting on a platform constructed on the sea bed.

Franco Porcellacchia, leader of the Costa Cruise technical team, said it was “a perfect operation, I must say.” There was no detectable pollution from the ship, he added, keeping the operation on course to preserve the beautifully clear waters off the Giglio coast.

concordia world infrastructure news 4

With a schedule to refloat and remove the Concordia from Giglio’s waters some time in 2014, Titan Salvage and Micoperi will have to now assess the condition of the side of the ship before deciding how to proceed over the coming months.

The attachment to the hull of several large “sponsons” – steel tanks for the eventual refloating – is testament to the extent of the damage. See some fascinating timelapse footage of the parbuckling below.

Richard Greenan

Written By admin 
September 17, 2013 22:17 pm
Posted In Ports, TRANSPORT

Risky uprighting of Costa Concordia set for 16 September, weather permitting…

costa concordia uprighting world infrastructure news

A team of 500 engineers and divers from 21 countries is in the final preparation stages of a nail-biting marine salvage operation of unprecedented scale and difficulty.

On Sunday, if the authorities in Giglia, Italy are satisfied that weather conditions are safe, head of operations, Franco Gabrielli will order US salvage company, Titan, and Italian marine contractor, Micoperi, to start parbuckling (uprighting) the stricken Costa Concordia passenger ship at 6am local time (4am BST).

The 114,000-tonne vessel ran onto rocks off Giglia in January 2012, killing 30 with two missing, presumed dead. It has since lain on its side, perched treacherously on a precipitous underwater slope between two spurs of granite rock.

The delicate process is expected to take between eight to 12 hours, and this will be the one and only chance to get the righting right. If the ship buckles, all is lost, including the two bodies still believed to be inside it.

Computer-operated strand jacks will be used to tighten the cables and slowly return the Concordia to a vertical position, resting on a huge underwater platform. The plan is then to tow the vessel from protected Tuscan waters intact. It cannot be broken up in-situ because of the risk of environmental damage to the richly biodiverse waters in which it lies.

Nick Sloane, Titan’s senior salvage master told The Guardian that if given the go-ahead, pre-tensioning the ship would start on Sunday night to help prepare it for the lift. He added that some weaker parts of the ship would fracture, but that was expected and not necessarily a problem and that if you “put it back again then that’s it, you’ve lost the chance. You only have one chance from the start.”

The salvage operation has so far managed to secure the ship using giant cement sacks and custom-made metal platforms. Sloane also told The Guardian that “such is the incline that anyone who goes on board has had to take a climbing course beforehand”. The drilling of holes into the granite rocks was another major challenge.

The total cost of the salvaging is tipped at 600 million Euros (£505 million), the most expensive ever recorded. Fingers crossed for everyone involved.

Gail Taylor

Written By admin 
September 13, 2013 14:43 pm
Posted In Ports, TRANSPORT

China Breaks the Ice With Maiden Voyage to Europe via the Northeast Passage

china cosco northern passage world infrastructure news

On Thursday 8th August, a 19,000 cargo vessel belonging to Cosco Shipping set sail on its maiden voyage from the north-eastern Chinese port of Dalian in Liaoning province. Rather than taking the usual route via the Suez Canal, the ship will sail via the Northeast Passage of The Arctic. According to China Daily this is the first time a Chinese merchant ship has travelled to Europe via this route, which passes through the Bering Strait and along Russia’s northern coastline.

The new route is expected to cut approximately 7,000km and 12 to 15 days off the usual shipping routes between China and Europe, greatly reducing fuel and operating costs. Cosco anticipates that the journey to Rotterdam will take 33 days, which means the ship should arrive on 11th September. The Northeast Passage has become navigable in recent times due to melting polar caps, but ships will still only be able to transit for about four months of the year in the Arctic summer.

Around 90 per cent of China’s foreign trade is carried by sea, and it is hoped that the new shipping route will help develop the northeast of the country. China Daily quotes industry experts as saying the Arctic route will change China’s industrial layout in its coastal provinces and reshape the prospects for the global shipping sector. Han Yichao, an industrial analyst with Changjiang Securities Co told China Daily that if 10 per cent of China’s trade was shipped through the Arctic routes by 2020, it could be worth $683 billion.

Gail Taylor

(Image courtesy of the Daily Mail)

Written By admin 
August 14, 2013 14:40 pm
Posted In Ports, TRANSPORT

Melting Ice Means Shipping News for the Arctic


Global warming is an old adversary, but now melting ice in the Arctic is starting to cause a new headache for conservationists fighting to preserve a region that is uniquely important to global biodiversity. The reason is that as the ice clears, a new, shorter shipping route between Europe and Asia is opening up, dramatically reducing journey times and shipping costs. The melt is also set to make the area’s rich mineral reserves more available to the world. All of which could have a major impact on the environment and the thirty or more indigenous peoples who live there.

The increase in shipping passing through the region is steep. Two years ago, permission was granted for just four ships to sail the entire route between Europe and Asia via the Arctic. In 2012, this figure rose to 47 ships. In 2013, 204 ships are expected to gain permission, and by 2030 it is predicted that about one-third of all shipping between Asia and Europe will take this route. It is also expected that within the next five years, the route will be navigable for eight months a year. The Russians, followed by the Chinese, are showing the most interest in the new route. This makes sense as the Russian Arctic is already the most developed in the region in terms of tapping natural resources. The Americans, however, have warned of issues around national security and safe transit that will need to be addressed.

With an abundance of mineral wealth including oil, natural gas, nickel, copper, coal, gold, uranium, iron, tungsten and diamonds all set to become easier to exploit, the potential for conflict is obvious. The Arctic has no single government but the Arctic Council – an intergovernmental forum – works to promote co-operation between Canada, Denmark/Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden, the United States, and the indigenous peoples. A daunting task, especially when the voices of the environmentalists are added to the mix.

Gail Taylor

Written By admin 
July 26, 2013 12:55 pm
Posted In Ports, TRANSPORT

Port of Baltimore Gears up for post-Panamax trade


The newly constructed Seagirt Marine Terminal at the Port of Baltimore is fully functional, as giant Chinese-constructed cranes unload a constant stream of goods. The $250m project, funded by Ports America, has opened in anticipation of the expansion of the Panama Canal. The terminal will be operated under a 50-year lease, signed by the Port of Baltimore and the Maryland Port Administration.

The Port of Baltimore is currently one of only two East coast ports that can accommodate large cargo, or “post-Panamax”, ships, the second such facility being the Port of Virginia, in Norfolk. By 2015, however, the Panama Canal locks will have been expanded to manage longer and wider ships, opening the door to East coast ports and the Gulf of Mexico.

The dredging of Baltimore’s channel and construction of a 50-ft berth forms part of a ports “arms race” that has swept the country. Larger ships carrying more cargo lead to increased profits, and this large-scale expansion is seen as key to the port’s economic survival. Ports America Chesapeake president, Mark Montgomery, said: “It will allow a ship that is three times as big to come through the canal once the widening project is finished. It’s a significant change in maritime economics.”

The expanded capacity includes four new “super post-panamax” cranes, at 400-foot-tall, are considered the largest of their kind in the maritime industry, reaching 22 containers across on a container ship and lifting 187,300 pounds of cargo. These are in addition to Baltimore’s existing seven “post-panamax” 18 container cranes.

Forecasts of a manufacturing shift towards Southeast Asian states such as Vietnam and Cambodia will further change the field of play for port economics. James White, Maryland Port Administration’s executive director, said: “I think we’re probably going to see, within the next five to 10 years, most of the transits, if that continues, to come to the Suez Canal, with the Panama Canal getting maybe some overflow.”

Richard Greenan

Follow @WorldInfraNews

BNSF wins in LA


BNSF Railway Company has won approval from L.A. City Council for the controversial  $500m railyard project near the neighbourhoods of Long Beach and Wilmington.

The new $500m rail yard on a 153-acre site, known as the Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) will significantly reduce road traffic.

Proponents of the project, including business and labour backers, state that thousands of jobs will be generated by the railyard close to the Terminal Island Freeway. It is also argued that pollution in the area will be reduced by SCIG’s shortening of cargo truck trips to and from freight trains. Local council representative Joe Buscaino has declared that the railyard will be essential for the the Port of Los Angeles to compete with the widening Panama Canal.

Buscaino said, “With a $500 million investment, this is a good project from both an environmental and economic point of view.” He continued, “This will be the cleanest rail yard ever built in this country and will mean a reduction in air pollution through better cargo handling and eliminating 1 million truck trips a year on the freeway.”

The project comes as a capital commitment plan pushes BNSF’s spending $450m higher than its capital spend total for 2012. As well as boosting BNSF’s presence in the area, the project will provide competition for a nearby railyard owned by Union Pacific. It is also progressing in tandem with a $137.7m intermodal railyard that will offer storage and staging for trains travelling between the port and the Alameda Corridor.

Environmental groups, community activists and regional air regulators oppose the project. A representative of the Natural Resources Defense Council has pledged the group will file a lawsuit to block construction of the railyard. Executive officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, Barry Wallerstein, highlighted the number of nitrous oxide emitting trucks that SCIG will bring close to homes.

Richard Greenan


Written By infra2013 
May 13, 2013 16:55 pm
Posted In Ports, TRANSPORT