Nicaragua Canal project business seminar

Date: 30 April 2014, 3pm

Venue: British Expertise London office

Dr Paul Oquist, a key figure in the Nicaraguan Government and a close adviser to President Ortega on the Canal project, spoke for the first time in London about the new Nicaragua Canal project.

The Central American Business Council organised a business event chaired by its President, Baroness Hooper. The seminar was co-hosted by our event partners, British Expertise and City UK, and held in association with the Embassy of Nicaragua, the Major Projects Association and the Society of Maritime Industries.

Dr Oquist is Minister–Secretary for National Policies of the Nicaraguan Presidency and Executive Secretary of the Commission of the Nicaraguan Grand Interoceanic Canal.  During his presentation, Dr Oquist addressed a number of themes around the new project including:

  • An overview of the canal project and the economic  logic behind the scheme
  • Details about the associated infrastructure which the Nicaraguan Government intends to put in place alongside the scheme, including new ports, airports and oil pipeline.
  • The opportunities for UK firms to be involved in the project whether as investors or as commercial partners

Estimated at US$40billion, the Nicaraguan Canal is the largest infrastructure project of its kind in the world.  The Concession, formally granted last year to the Hong Kong Nicaragua Development Investment Co. Ltd (HKND), a Chinese private company headed up by its Chief Executive, Wang Jing, includes a shipping canal, ports and terminals, an oil pipeline, a railway, free trade zones and an airport.  HKND is already estimated to have invested up to US$100million in feasibility studies from world leading consultancy firms such as McKinsey and British firm, Environmental Resources Management (ERM).  The results of these studies and the preferred route for the Canal have not yet been published.

HKND forecast that there is a need for additional capacity beyond the Panama Canal to link the Atlantic to the Pacific and they forecast strong future demand for the Nicaragua canal project because of growing global world trade and a shift towards larger ships which are unable to pass through Panama but will be able to go through Nicaragua. Maersk Line, the world’s largest container shipping company and the Panama Canal’s top customer, has already rerouted services from Asia to the East Coast of the United States via the Suez Canal. Its newest ships are too big for the Panama Canal, even after a third lane is built.  Above and beyond the economic argument for the Canal, there is also widespread speculation in the media that the Chinese Government is ultimately behind HKND.

More information about the project can be found at the following link.