PANAMA CITY – The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has said that an arbitral institution has partially recognized one of the claims for cost overruns, some $233 million of the $463 million demanded by Grupos Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), the main contactor responsible for the expansion of the Panama Canal.
In a statement issued Thursday, the ACP explained that the cost overruns recognized by the arbitral body were due to the additional costs incurred by the poor quality of basalt extracted from a mine adjacent to one of the Pacific locks for the construction.
The consortium led by Spanish-builder Sacyr has also said there were delays due to time taken by the ACP to approve the cement mixture used in the construction.
In addition, the arbitrating body also awarded the GUPC an extension of 176 days for the handover.
Both parties have the option of taking the case to a court of arbitration under the rules of the International Chamber of Commerce if not satisfied with the decision.
The GUPC has presented other claims for cost overruns, two of which, amounting to $130 million, were ruled in favor of the ACP.
On Dec. 26, the ACP announced that the GUPC had made two new claims worth $735 million for cost overruns bringing the total amount claimed by the consortium, which also includes the Italian builder Salini Impregilo, Jan De Nul of Belgium and Constructora Urbana of Panama, to some $2.3 billion.
In 2009, the ACP and the GUPC, signed a $3.1 billion contract for the design and construction of a new set of locks for the canal.
Work on the expansion project, which began in 2007 on a budget of $5.2 billion, is expected to be completed in 2015 and the expanded canal set to begin operations in the first quarter of 2016.