The expansion of the Panama Canal is months behind the schedule

Panama Canal expansion work resumes

The work on the Panama Canal expansion has resumed after having been halted for two weeks due to massive cost overruns.

Two companies leading the consortium delivering the project – Spanish construction company Sacyr and Italian Salini Impreglio – have been involved in fierce disagreements regarding the financial aspects of the project that resulted in workers having been sent home at the beginning of February.

"The restarting of the works is being done in a way that will enable it to reach full pace in the shortest time possible," the consortium said in a statement.

The project aims to widen the waterway across Central America connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean, in order to allow larger ships to pass through. The recent standstill was thus of great concern of shipping companies from around the world as the resulting delays mean the expansion won’t be finished according to the original schedule by December 2015.

"We believe that with the discussion we had last night and the comments made, we can find a path out of this," Panama Canal administrator Jorge Quijano commented on the recent developments.

“There are still problems to be sorted out, but the agreement with the consortium should allow work to get going,” he said.

The dispute involved delivery dates of massive lock gates being built in Europe and the final budget.

The parties have agreed to deal with the core of the dispute, $1.6bn in cost overruns that the consortium wants the Panama Canal to pay for, via arbitration.

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