The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) is demanding that the Spanish-Italian-Belgian-Panamanian consortium Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) which suspended construction two weeks ago in a contract dispute over $1.6 billion of cost over-runs resume work on the third set of locks. In response, the consortium has issued a statement claiming that “GUPC has been making proposals and responding to proposals on an almost continual daily basis. GUPC has continued to make efforts on the a proposal sent to ACP to reach agreement and allow completion of the expansion project in the shortest time possible.” For its part, ACP has frequently referenced a Plan B but in reality the appointment of a replacement consortium at short notice would be a tall order. There are actually three levels of independent arbitration set out in the original $3.1bn contract signed in 2009 between ACP and GUPC but the current dispute has yet to pass the second stage. In a press conference on Thursday morning ACP claimed that it has reached a partial agreement with GUPC to end the dispute (whatever that means) even as it continues to seek alternatives to complete construction.