March 3rd will mark an important date in the Panama Canal Expansion Program: The four prequalified consortia – containing more than 30 companies – will submit their proposals to design and build the new set of locks that will constitute the core of the Canal’s new lane of traffic.
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has put in place a sophisticated process to select the winner for what will be the largest contract under the $5.25 billion program. The selection process will build off the ACP’s already comprehensive expansion contracting process and will ensure a fair, rigorous and transparent selection. The process will be detailed in the coming weeks.
On March 3, consortia submissions will be separated into two submissions – price and technical proposals. The price proposals will be moved to an independent and secure environment and will not be reviewed until the technical proposals have been evaluated and points computed.
“All ACP contracts undergo a very rigorous process to ensure fairness and transparency,” said Panama Canal Authority (ACP) Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta. “As the largest and most important contract under the Canal Expansion Program, the ACP has taken additional measures to ensure that the contracting process is airtight, complies with Panamanian law, and is managed by experts and audited by a third party to certify thoroughness and transparency.”
The bidding for the contract to design and build the new set of locks has undergone an 18-month-long rigorously structured process – that included meetings, consultations and adjustments to the Request for Proposal (RFP) – to attract the most talented companies.
As an introduction to the bidding, the ACP drew global attention to the project in March 2007 with an informative conference that attracted more than 800 participants, representing 324 companies from 29 countries – including 21 of the largest contractors in the world.
The conference provided preliminary details of the Expansion Program projects, including the design and construction of the new locks, dredging and dry excavation, as well as the ACP’s contracting procedures.
The bidding process for the new locks began in August 2007, when the ACP released its Request for Qualifications (RFQ). During this prequalification stage, the ACP evaluated responses (also called Statements of Qualification or SOQ) from prospective firms based on a combination of pass/fail criteria and capabilities. The release of the RFQ was followed by an informative meeting and new locks construction site visits.
In December 2007, the ACP announced that the four global consortia met the minimum prequalification requirements and would move forward with their bids to design and build the new locks.
Consequently, the ACP began a thorough process, which included 50 meetings with the prequalified consortia, to set clear conditions for the competition. Listening to the needs of the bidders and in response to consortia requests, the ACP instituted 23 amendments to the RFP and three changes to the delivery date, which will yield stronger bids.
The consortia have inspected the sites in the Atlantic and the Pacific, where the new locks of the Canal will be built to compile the necessary geological information for the preparation of the proposals. They also have visited laboratories in France and Belgium, where the physical models of the new locks were constructed to verify the specifications laid out in the proposal.
The members of the prequalified consortia are Consorcio C.A.N.A.L.; Consorcio Atlántico-Pacífico de Panamá; Consortia Bechtel, Taisei, Mitsubishi Corporation; and Consorcio Grupo Unidos por el Canal.
As referenced above, the ACP will release more information detailing the review and evaluation process of the proposals as the submission deadline nears.