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Panama Canal Awards Contract, Wins Award

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The Panama Canal awards construction projects and itself wins awards as a leading infrastructure project in Latin America.

BY CHRONICLE STAFF

The Panama Canal has awarded its largest expansion contract to date.  Belgium-based Dredging International won its $177.5 million bid for dredging the Pacific sea entrance, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced in a statement Friday.

“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," ACP Executive Vice President Engineering and Program Management Jorge Quijano said in a statement.” 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."

The ACP selected the company after also evaluating bids from Belgian-Dutch partners Jan De Nul N.V/Van Oord Dredging and Marine Contractors BV (which had bid to do the job for $485.4 million) and Netherlands-based Boskalis International BV (which would do the dredging for $258.9 million).

The news coincided with the canal itself winning two awards at a major infrastructure conference in Miami last week. The Panama Canal was named Long-term Performance Project of the Year and Strategic Infrastructure Project of the Year at the Latin American Leadership Forum in Miami last week. The annual conference is organized by CG/LA Infrastructure, a Washington, D.C.-based consultancy.  

The criteria for competing for Long-term Performance Project of the Year was that the project had been operational for at least five years and demonstrates that infrastructure projects in Latin America perform to world-class physical and financial standards. CFE Generation Investment Program in Mexico and the Chilean Water/Wastewater Build-out in Chile were finalists competing with the canal. Meanwhile, the waterway's $5.2 billion expansion won the category for strategic infrastructure project of the year for fulfilling the criteria of being the project underway in the 2007/08 period that promises to change the competitive face of the region. Corredor Férreo Magdalena in Colombia and the São Paulo Digital Clearinghouse Project in Brasil were finalists competing with the canal.

Other winners include:

  • Engineering Project of the Year: Rio Grijalva Project, Mexico for being the most creative or challenging engineering project of the year. 
  • Equity/Job Creation Project of the Year: Azua Biodiesel Project, Dominican Republic for being the project that will create the most jobs, and the greatest business creation Opportunities, over the next 25 years.
  • Financial Project of the Year: San José Caldera Highway Project, Costa Rica for being the financial structure that best points the way forward, in terms of a replicable model, so that the region might achieve the goal of tripling investment in infrastructure within the next 25 years.

Meanwhile, Yukiko Omura, the departing Executive Vice President of MIGA (World Bank Group) received the Leadership Forum's Lifetime Achievement Award, for her infrastructure work, including supporting nearly $6 billion in projects over the last 4 year (of which 40 percent were in Latin America) and generating more than 300,000 direct and indirect jobs throughout the developing world. 

The Miami conference gathered nearly 500 executives from more than 40 countries, according to Norman Anderson, president and CEO of CG/LA Infrastructure. "The results were exceptional," he says .  "The total number of scheduled private meetings exceeded 2500, but when you include informal meetings we believe that the number of discrete meetings exceeded 4000 -- or roughly 10 per participants. "

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