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Italian group will expand the Panama Canal

A consortium headed by Italian construction and civil engineering giant Impregilo has won an over $3 billion contract to expand the Panama Canal.

The consortium, which sees Impregilo allied with Spain's Sacyr Vallehermoso, had been the front-runner for the contract after it presented a bid last week of just under $3.12 billion to build new locks and water-saving basins, well below the target price of $3.48 billion set by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP).

The ACP said at the time that the Italo-Spanish bid was the ''best value'' proposal it had received in regard to price and technical considerations.

''Winning this contract, which for its size and complexity makes the project one of the most important in the world, demonstrates the excellence of Impregilo's ability to make in-depth studies, draw up organizational models and carry out economic and financial evaluations,'' CEO Alberto Rubegni said on Thursday.

''Today, we are all very proud and satisfied because this important result rewarded the group and its employees who through their know-how have allowed us to become world leaders in construction and civil engineering,'' he added.

Aside from the Italian and Spanish companies, the consortium includes Somague of Portugal, Belgium's Jan de Nul and Panama's Cisa.

Also bidding for the contract were a consortium headed by Bechtel of the United States, allied with the Japanese companies Taisei and Mitsubishi, which presented a bid of $4.185 billion; and one with the Spanish companies ACS, FCC and Acciona, together with Germany's Hichtief, which presented a bid of $5.981 billion.

The contract is the biggest in Panama's $5.23-billion project to expand the canal, which handles some 5% of world trade.

Once completed, the canal will be able to double traffic, reduce the transit time and allow broader and longer ships to transit between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the 81km-long canal, which opened in 1914.

The whole expansion project is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.

by S. C.
18 july 2009, World News > Italy