PANAMA CITY, Panama, December 18, 2008 – The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) awarded Constructora MECO, S.A. the third of four dry excavation contracts Tuesday to help create an access channel linking the new Pacific locks with the Canal’s existing Gaillard Cut (the narrowest stretch of the Panama Canal).

The contracting process began September 30, 2008 when the ACP released its request for proposals (RFP) for the excavation project. On December 4, 2008, the ACP received a total of six bids for the contract. Following a thorough review, the ACP determined that the lowest bidder, Constructora MECO, S.A., a Costa Rican firm established in Panama in 1995, met the requirements of the RFP and proceeded to award the contract to this company.

“This pivotal step in the process to build the new lane represents just one more example of the Expansion Program’s steady progress. Constructora MECO, S.A. is a leading construction company in Latin America with expertise in the execution of infrastructure projects such as this one,” said Executive Vice President of Engineering and Program Management Jorge L. Quijano. “The interest received for the Canal expansion’s various elements demonstrates the industry’s desire to make history and work on a very interesting and unique project.”

The scope of work included in the contract encompasses the excavation, removal and disposal of 8 million cubic meters of material, which will further reduce Paraíso (Paradise) Hill from 46 meters to 27.5 meters above sea level. It also calls for the construction of approximately 2.5 kilometers of access roads and the clearing of 190 hectares of land bearing munitions and explosives of consideration (MEC), remnants from former U.S. military training in Panama.

The companies listed below submitted bids.

CONALVÍAS-RETRANEQ B/. 61,323,876.97
CORPORACIÓN M&S INT. B/. 45,218,642.00
CONSTRUCTORA URBANA S.A. B/. 38,200,000.00
CONSTRUCTORA MECO S.A. B/. 36,659,852.28

Expansion will build a new lane of traffic along the Panama Canal through the construction of a new set of locks which will double capacity and allow more traffic and longer, wider ships.

About the Panama Canal Authority (ACP)
The ACP is the autonomous agency of the Government of Panama in charge of managing, operating and maintaining the Panama Canal. The operation of the ACP is based on its organic law and the regulations approved by its Board of Directors. For more information, please refer to the ACP’s Web site: http://www.pancanal.com/.