Third Set Of Locks - Panama

Third Set Of Locks - Panama


This project fits within the “Panama Canal Expansion Program”. As the name suggests, this program aims to expand the Panama Canal to allow the movement of ships with a load capacity of 120,000 tons. Just as with the existing locks, 3 different levels will be constructed in succession. This series lifts the vessels from sea level to the Gatún Lake, situated 27 meters higher.

Due to the high demands, double doors will be installed between the water levels. This means that there is a total of 8 doors per lock complex. The doors must have a lifespan of 100 years in an earthquake area. The doors must also withstand huge fluctuating water pressures and any possible collisions of ships. The entire lock complex must be available for shipping 100% of the time, which has major consequences for the design and maintenance.

The concrete walls of the lock complexes are up to 33 meters high, taper downwards on the outside and are 33 meters wide at the foot. The double steel doors of the locks are 31 meters high, approximately 55 meters wide and 10 meters thick. The new doors in the locks are rolling doors, which moves horizontally when opening and closing, perpendicular to the sailing direction.

In addition, water-saving basins were provided in the lock complex, located next to the locks. This environmental saving measure ensures that 60% of the water is reused.

Within this project, SBE has taken a prominent place in several phases:

PHASE 1: Conceptual Design (2005-2007)

  • Conceptual design of the first step of the lock;
  • Conceptual design of the second step of the lock;
  • Conceptual design of the third step of the lock;
  • Cost-benefit analysis;
  • Study of the lock gates and associated electromechanical equipment;
  • Study of the lock chambers and the lock head;
  • General advice on lock design & maintenance;
  • Cost estimation.

PHASE 2: Design & Build (2007-2009)

  • Tender design of the lock gates, incl. Electromechanical equipment;
  • General advice concerning lock design;
  • General advice regarding maintenance.

The consortium did not win the Design & Build contract. However, after rigorous ACP evaluation, SBE received the highest technical score of all participants (55% for the technical score, 45% for the financial score).

PHASE 3: Design review of the chosen provider (2009)

  • Checking the lock gates, incl. Electromechanical equipment;
  • Checking maintenance of the lock gates General advice
Panama Canal, Panama
Port & river engineering
Port development
2005 - 2009