Dutch firms look at feasibility of Nicaragua canal

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AMSTERDAM (AP) — Two Dutch companies say they have been awarded a $720,000 (€587,000) contract by the Nicaraguan government to study the feasibility of building a rival to the Panama canal that would travel through Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Since the early 1800s, the so-called "Nicaragua Canal" has been considered a serious possibility as a route that could link the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, though the Panama Canal ultimately won out. Some experts believe the growth of global shipping means that two canals through Central America would benefit the industry, especially if a Nicaragua Canal could accommodate larger ships.

Infrastructure company Royal HaaskoningDHV and Ecorys said Monday they will complete their study by early 2013. The Nicaraguan government has loosely estimated construction costs at $20 billion and would seek international investors.

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