PANAMA CITY, Panama July 15, 2009 – The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced today that Consortium Grupo Unidos por el Canal will design and build the waterway’s new set of locks, the most anticipated project of the Panama Canal Expansion Program.

“We strongly believe that today’s awarding of the contract is the successful culmination of months of rigorous planning and stringent evaluation on the ACP’s part,” said ACP Contracting Officer Adriano Espino. “After identifying Grupo Unidos por el Canal as the consortium with the ‘best value’ proposal last week, we verified its price submission based on ACP requirements and regulations. And we concluded that the consortium has the resources to perform the project and bring it to completion.”

Grupo Unidos por el Canal, composed of Sacyr Vallehermoso S.A., Impregilo S.p.A., Jan De Nul n.v. and Constructora Urbana, S.A., was one of three world-renowned consortia vying for the largest and most important contract under the Canal’s expansion.

“Thanks to all the consortia participating in this historical project for their effort and commitment. It has been a very unique experience and this fills us with enormous pride at the ACP,” said Canal Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta. “The way in which this 22-month-long, transparent contracting process has been managed from start to finish is a credit to the hard-working employees of the ACP.”

The ACP revealed that Grupo Unidos por el Canal submitted the “best value” proposal for the new set of locks contract during a public event held Wednesday, July 8. The event, broadcast live on Panamanian television and the ACP Web site, was attended by Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli and many high-ranking government officials. The winning consortium garnered the highest total points for its combined technical and price scores.

“I am impressed by the ACP’s ability and professional competence to plan and execute the Panama Canal Expansion Program,” said ACP Advisory Board Chairman William A. O’Neil. “The bidding process and awarding of the new set of locks contract are prime examples of the ACP’s capability to implement the project in a fair and transparent manner. It clearly could be a model for other major international contracts. This latest award is a critical step in the execution of the Expansion Program and the diligence shown by the ACP, in conducting the process, is to be highly commended. I look forward to continued success in its implementation as the project moves forward.”

At the July 8 event, the ACP revealed the technical scores and opened the consortia’s sealed price proposals. All scores were displayed on large video screens – in the presence of a Public Notary and the ACP’s independent auditing firm, Deloitte, which attested that the established evaluation process was thoroughly followed by the ACP Technical Evaluation Board. The ACP then calculated a final weighted score – constituting 55 percent for the technical proposal and 45 percent for the price submission – live and on-screen.

The points for the price proposal and technical evaluation from each consortium were then combined and the highest total score became the “best value” offer.

The base price of US $3,118,880,001.00 submitted by Grupo Unidos por el Canal did not exceed the ACP’s owner’s allocated price of US $3,481,000,000.00.

Following the “best value” determination last week, the Price Verification Board, an independent group of ACP employees not involved with the Technical Evaluation Board, ensured that the consortium’s price proposal complied with the established requirements of the ACP. In addition, the ACP Contracting Officer confirmed the contractor’s qualifications pursuant to the established ACP contracting regulations.

Next Steps

All of the consortia have been notified of this award, and are given five days to review it and an additional three days to file their protest, if any, with the ACP Contracting Office.

The ACP will issue an “order to proceed” for the work to commence. The date for this will be determined in due course. The ACP expects the winning consortium to begin work no later than 42 days from the awarding.

A full listing of Grupo Unidos por el Canal consortium members and subcontractors follows below:

Grupo Unidos por el Canal
Consortium Members:

  • Sacyr Vallehermoso S.A. – Leader (Spain)
  • Impregilo S.p.A. – (Italy)
  • Jan de Nul n.v. – (Belgium)
  • Constructora Urbana, S.A. – (Panama)

Designers (subcontractors):

  • Montgomery Watson Harza (MWH) – Leader (United States)
  • IV-Groep – (Holland)
  • Tetra Tech – (United States)

Gate Manufacturers (subcontractor):

  • Heerema Fabrication Group – (Holland)


What is “Best Value?”

The ACP determined the “best value” proposal based on weighted total scores – 55 percent for the technical proposal and 45 percent for the price submission. Technical points awarded to each consortium were calculated and added with the price proposal to determine the total number of points.

Key Milestones

Key milestones in the new set of locks contracting process include:

  • August 28, 2007 – The ACP releases its Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to participate in the prequalification process for the new set of locks contract.
  • December 14, 2007 – The ACP announces the four pre-qualified consortia, comprised of 30 companies from 13 countries.
  • December 21, 2007 – The ACP releases the Request for Proposals (RFP) to design and build the new set of locks.
  • January – December 2008 – The ACP holds more than 50 meetings with the prequalified consortia and hosts field visits to the sites where the new set of locks will be built.
  • March 3, 2009 – Three of the four prequalified consortia submit technical and price proposals for the new set of locks contract.
  • July 8, 2009 – The ACP opens price proposals and reveals technical proposal scores and the ACP’s owner’s price.  Points for both the price and technical proposals are tallied and the ACP determines that Grupo Unidos por el Canal offers the “best value” proposal.
  • July 15, 2009 – The ACP officially awards Grupo Unidos por el Canal with the contract to design and build the Canal’s new set of locks.

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 ACP is governed by 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/.