The Panama Canal will be obsolete by 2013 when it won't be able to service large vessels, larger than the current capacity of the inter-oceanic passage, warned a paper from the Panama Canal Authority, ACP.
If the canal is not widened, "it can be anticipated that much of the relevant demand which can not be serviced will migrate to the Suez Canal and the inter-modal United States system", pointed out the paper which has elaborated 120 assessments reports related to the future expansion of the waterway.
The canal "could in the mid term see its client base considerably reduced, loosing relevance in the market", and left "in a strategic and disadvantageous position, dependent on few routes with predominantly few users", underlines the report.
Some of the potential competitors facing the Panama Canal are a possible canal crossing Nicaragua, the railway system along the Amazon river to the Pacific from Brazil to Ecuador, a major highway in Honduras connecting several ports and the possibility of additional services for the Post Panamax generation in the Suez Canal.
The Post Panamx vessels given their size are unable to operate in the Panama Canal because of the locks dating back to 1904 and 1914.
The canal currently has an annual handling capacity of 325 million tons of cargo which represents 13.000 vessels.
Next year the Panamanian government is scheduled to call a referendum to decide on the expansion of the canal. An undertaking that is estimated will demand over 800 million US dollars.