Canal delayed

I doubt this will surprise anyone but the canal project has been delayed. I saw the news a couple of days ago but was waiting for an article with a bit more information. It's looking like that article will not be here soon so I picked one in Ship and Bunker to toss out the idea.

The article also mentions delays in the Panama Canal upgrade project. No surprise in either.

Canal authority head Manuel Coronel Kautz said more time is needed to set a route and conduct feasibility studies, and the project will "probably" start next year.

We continue to see comments about Wang Jing not having the needed experience with large construction projects. Having started a publishing business with no experience in publishing I continue to see this as a bit strange. To me, it's a lot like saying NASA will never land on the moon because they have no experience landing on the moon or Linus Torvalds will never create an operating system because he had never created one before.

There are also comments about how the proposed canal is bigger than the Suez or Panama canals. I would hope that we, as people, would think that doing something that hasn't been done before would be possible. I think it is called progress.

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I am doubtful

the canal in Nicaragua will ever be finished. But, with the Spanish banks fighting with Panama over money owed for the expansion of the Panama canal, it must be good for Nicaragua's prospects.

Linus Torvalds created an OS? (sorry phil).

1st Capt. Ron

(Title by Miskito Alan)

Something will get built, somewhere

When the Panama can was built, ships were these things that got loaded with cargo. Now they are things that either get loaded with containers of cargo or with some liquid that is ultimately pumped out.

That change makes railroads and pipelines a viable alternative to a canal. That is the modern day game changer.

As the Panama Canal upgrade continues to be delayed and Nicaragua doesn't yet know what it wants to do, the ideas of railroads and pipelines look better. The Guatemalan government just re-acquired the railroad infrastructure that was sold off many years ago. As it includes the right-of-way (and not much else) and there has been a plan on the books for some time for a highway/railroad/pipeline to cross the country, these delays make the Guatemala idea look better and better.

The biggest advantage is having the right-of-way. No study to decide where to build it, no environmental impact statement and no acquisition of land needed. It will be interesting to see if Guatemala responds to these other delays with a solid plan.

Not a new game changer

Panama had its canal, its railroad (reopened in 2001) for containers, and its oil pipeline (1982) and was still so traffic congested that it's building the new channel and locks.

The pipeline is the Trans-Panama Pipeline.

Location is the difference

Panama is very close to the equator. There is a lot of trade (and there will be a lot more because of the world population distribution) where a trip to Panama is much further out of the way than a trip to Nicaragua or, Guatemala. In fact, Guatemala has an advantage over Nicaragua.

A really good example is China or Korea shipping to the US east coast or to Eastern Canada. It is clearly already established trade that, right now, either must travel by truck or rail across the US or go to Panama. Anything that can shorten that trade route is a big plus.

Another yet to be defined change is with Mexico's oil industry. It is now semi-privatized allowing foreign companies to get involved. The expectation is a large increase in production. A relatively short route from the Gulf Coast to the Pacific could dramically change the economics of distribution.


I think the canal project would be a much more lucrative without the actual canal being built. With Ortega now being able to get pretty much anything he wants passed by the legislature and upheld by the supreme court, I don't think getting the right of way for any route will be difficult for him. While Guatemala currently has the right of way, I don't think it will be that much of an advantage, over Nicaragua, simply because of Ortega's powerful position here in Nicaragua.

From a project prospective, these lesser ancillary projects need to be completed first anyway, so why not put the canal decision off until things can be evaluated?

1st Capt. Ron

(Title by Miskito Alan)

Agree but

While I agree that Ortega can make whatever he wants happen, there is still a lot of elapsed time involved. You can't just draw a line on a map. Even for just a road, you need to study the path to decide when to go over vs. around a hill, see where bridges are needed and so forth. All that research has already been done in Guatemala -- even to the extend needed for a railroad. Construction could pretty much start immediately.

I also see the Guatemalan government as much better at actually getting stuff done. One example is the good and expanding TransMetro system in Guatemala City. My prediction is that by the end of the year we will see who will actually be seriously moving forward.

lived in puerto barrios,guat..

back in the early 90's.. a friend of ours..would drive us 20-30 miles up the road..and we would bike back on the old railroad tracks..back then the japanese were talking about putting the train system back in

What Then Becomes

the ultimate location for a pipeline / container railway? Who will be the major players in the years to come? Across the Tehuantepec Isthmus in Mexico perhaps?

Contrast the work of loading and unloading the ships, with a central "Fed Ex Distribution Center" facility to sort the containers . . .

Who's producing and who's consuming?

Energy is still consumed moving the containers across land on a RR, or liquids in a pipe. Is that less, or more than the ship consumes going the same distance. The cost to transit a canal is not insignificant,, will the RR and pipeline be more or less.

How efficient can the unloading and loading process become? Will it be impacted by labor actions, become a political pawn?

Can ANYTHING be done in CA with efficiency? I cross borders frequently; I am not impressed with the efficiency I see moving me and my car down the road . . . . Actually, Nicaragua does quite well in this area, comparatively speaking.

Finally, the cargo is secure onboard the ship. Will containers be "lost" if they move by RR across a CA country?

Not worried about a missing container

The system this days is so advanced that you cant open the door etc, it is sensors inside the containers that analyze the cargo and compare it to the cargo manifest.

It is continuous updated and communicate with the ship and a central located somewhere, the somewhere is obvious. I have a lot of knowledge about this subject and future looks good.

One issue is that 99% of all containers is produced in China, basically scrap from NY and elsewhere and there might be secrets there.


The moon NASA analogy is better, though, I've heard that NASA put more prayers than engineering in their first spacecraft. It worked for them! :p

NASA and Apollo.

Prayers and good engineers.

I had the pleasure of befriending the chief engineer his name was Milton Shlapak, he and another heavyweight from that time came to Nicaragua to visit me a few years ago, unbelievable stuff was told over a glass of vine.

This was from my period when I was insane, now I am just broke but that is just temporary, benefit, I am sane.