Port of Balboa, Panama

Port of Balboa Panama

Photo: Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue, 2011.

The Port of Balboa, operated by Hutchinson Port Holdings (HPH), is an important transshipment hub on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal. It handled 2.5 million TEUs in 2018, but the port is close to capacity and has limited expansion options. The ship in the middle (blue color) is operated by Maersk Line and is of post-Panamax design, implying that it cannot enter the Panama Canal (which begins on the left side of the photo). The transshipped containers can either be placed on another ship or on the Panama Canal Railway, which has an intermodal terminal immediately adjacent to the port. Through this rail connection, a container can be brought to the port of Colon on the Atlantic side of the canal. In 2015, a new container port expansion project was approved at Corozal, just upstream of the port of Balboa, on 120 hectares of land that used to belong to the US Army, and which has been administered by the Panama Canal Authority since the hand over of the canal zone to the Panamanian government in 1999. The expansion is expected to add about 5.2 million TEUs of capacity in two phases but was delayed because of more limited growth prospects.