Work underway to extend two-way segment of Suez Canal: SCA

Ahram Online , Wednesday 16 Feb 2022

Work is under way to extend the two-way segment of the Suez Canal by 10 kilometres as part of the country’s plan to constantly improve the international waterway, Chairperson of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Osama Rabie said on Tuesday.

Suez Canal
File photo: Osama Rabie, chairman of Egypt s Suez Canal Authority (SCA), speaks during a press conference after the release of the Panama-flagged MV Ever Given container ship, in the canal s central city of Ismailia on July 5, 2021. AFP

The two-way traffic segment will be extended from the current 72 to 82 kilometres, Rabie said in the first news conference on the process, which began in June.

The first phase of work includes availing an additional 10 kilometres to the two-way traffic sector of the canal in order to enable more ships to pass and increase traffic safety, Al-Arabiya quoted Rabie as saying during the presser.

The second phase aims to widen and deepen 30 kilometres of the canal by 40 metres.

In a previous interview with Rabie, he said the project would develop the canal’s navigational course in the southern sector to create a dual zone in the area from the canal’s 122-kilometre to 132-kilometre mark, thus adding 10 kilometres to the New Suez Canal and increasing its length to 82 kilometres up from 72 kilometres.

The project, he added, includes expanding and deepening the Suez Canal’s navigation from the canal’s 132-kilometre mark south of the Salty Lakes to the canal’s 162-kilometre mark at the exit of the waterway. The new dual-lane will cover the equivalent of 25 percent of the 40-kilometre stretch that has no dual lane in the south sector of the canal.

The expansion and deepening of the remaining 40 kilometres would continue 40 metres to the east and the deepening of the canal from 66 feet to 72 feet.

The new dual-lane project would improve navigation within the canal and increase its capacity by another six ships. All this will improve the process of the crossing of ships and increase the area of the waterway. Rabie said that the whole project would take 24-30 months to implement.

The project’s segment includes the area that witnessed the Ever Given crisis in March 2021 that disrupted global shipping traffic for days in the conduit that links the Red Sea and the Mediterranean and carries 10 percent of all international trade.

The 400-metre-long giant container ship sailing under a Panamanian flag ran aground in March and blocked the Suez Canal before it was refloated after almost a week of extensive dredging and towing.

The disruption pushed forward the expansion process from January 2022 to June 2021, Rabie noted during the press conference on Tuesday.

Despite the Ever Given crisis, the Suez Canal — one of Egypt’s main sources of foreign currency — recorded a historic $6.3 billion in annual revenues in 2021, up from 2020’s $5.6 billion.

The canal also received in 2021 its largest annual net tonnage ever — 1.27 billion tonnes, according to official figures.

Furthermore, the SCA has increased its transit tolls for vessels travelling through the Suez Canal by six percent, starting February.

Separately, Rabie told CNBC Arabia on Tuesday that the authority is considering listing shares of some of the companies it owns on the Egyptian stock exchange (EGX).

Egypt has been launching initial public offerings (IPOs) of public companies since March 2019 with the aim of luring more foreign investments and also enhancing the trust of foreign investors in the Egyptian investment climate.

Earlier in February, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi directed the government to work on listing more state-run companies on the EGX.

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