The administrator of the Panama Canal, Jorge Luis Quijano, announced Tuesday potential new investment plans to ensure the key waterway stays competitive in the future.
The plans, which are in addition to an ongoing canal expansion project, include a possible fourth set of locks and the construction of another port on the Pacific side, a logistics park -- or special economic zone -- and a gas refueling station for vessels, Quijano told Xinhua.
As the waterway is set to commemorate its centennial this year and increased canal traffic is expected, the Panama Canal Authority is studying the possibility of building additional locks, he said.
The current expansion project already includes the building of a third set of locks, which would enable 98 percent of the world's trade fleet to pass through the canal, according to Quijano.
A fourth set may not be needed for another 10 years, he said, given that the current expansion project, to be completed by 2018, is expected to reduce congestion by 97 percent.
However, Quijano believes that trade ships will continue to get bigger, requiring new locks
Also, in five years, he said, the industry expects to see more vessels fueled by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and that these ships will be looking for routes with LNG fueling stations
Nicaragua, in conjunction with international investors, plans to build the Nicaragua Canal. Construction is expected to begin at the end of this year and be completed in six years.