Paving the way for construction, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) awarded the third and largest expansion contract Tuesday to dredge the Pacific sea entrance. The ACP kicked off this next phase of expansion awarding the contract to Dredging International.

The dredging of the Pacific sea entrance is essential to provide enough draft and width for longer, wider ships to pass and enter the new locks.

“As the third and largest expansion program contract in terms of volume, geographical spread and price awarded to date, the selection of Dredging International is a critical next step in the creation of the new lane. This is a solid, top-tier global dredging firm with the know-how and equipment we need to commence the job at hand and complete it on-time and within budget,” said ACP Executive Vice President Engineering and Program Management Jorge Quijano. “We received bids from the industry’s dredging leaders and now we look forward to issuing the order to proceed to Dredging International over the coming days so that they can begin their mobilization effort promptly.”

Dredging work in the Pacific sea entrance is expected to begin during the third quarter of this calendar year. When expansion concludes, as shown in this rendering of the Pacific sea entrance, the dredging project will widen the Canal’s approximate 9 mile-long (14 km) navigation channels to a minimum of 715 feet (218 meters) and deepen them to a maximum level of -51 feet (-15.5 meters) Mean Low Water Springs (MLWS).

The ACP released its Request for Proposal (RFP) for the contract August 30, 2007, and previously held site visits and an informational session to answer questions regarding the project.

On March 19, three bidders from two countries submitted proposals to dredge the Pacific sea entrance. After a thorough review of the lowest priced proposal, the ACP awarded the contract to Dredging International.

Company\Consortium      Country Bid Amount
Dredging International  Belgium $177,500,676.78
Boskalis International BV       Netherlands     $258,851,577.20
Jan De Nul N.V/Van Oord Dredging and Marine Contractors BV      Belgium, Netherlands    $485,453,336.00