A project to expand parts of the Suez Canal is expected to be completed after two years of work in July 2023, according to the chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA).
s Reuters reports, the SCA announced accelerated plans to extend a second channel of the canal and to enlarge an existing channel after the Ever Given container ship ran aground and blocked the waterway for six days last year.
More specifically, Chairman Osama Rabie, during the sidelines of an event in Dubai, said that “the project will be completed in 24 months. We started in July 2021 and God willing we will finish in July 2023.”
The southernmost 30 km of the canal, where the Ever Given became grounded, will be widened 40 metres eastward and deepened to 72 feet from 66 feet, according to previously announced plans.
This will improve ship navigation by 28% in this difficult part of the canal, said Mr. Rabie. What is more, when asked about shipments of Iranian fuel or oil passing through the Suez Canal despite U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil sales, Mr. Rabie noted that “there’s no discrimination when it comes to a country flag on ships, and Iranian oil does pass through the canal.”
Despite the Ever Given blocking the Suez Canal in March 2021, the canal achieved the highest annual revenue in its history, amounting to 6.3 billion dollars, while also experiencing a 10% increase in traffic.
During March 2021, one the world’s largest ships, the Ever Given stuck in the Suez Canal, blocking the traffic for about a week, making world’s headlights and causing supply chain issues.
This incident in addition to problems caused daily by the COVID-19 pandemic could have affected the Suez Canal. However, this did not happen, as the head of the authority explained that during 2021, 20,694 ships crossed the canal from both directions compared to the transit of 18,830 ships during the year 2020, an increase of 10%.
What is more, the total net tonnages amounted to1.27 billion tons compared to 1.17 billion tons during the year 2020, a difference of 100 million tons. An increase of 8.5%.
SCA also plans to offer new financial incentives for ships that follow environmentally friendly standards.
According to the Egyptian daily paper El Watan, citing a TV interview with SCA Chairman Osama Rabieh, ships that follow environmentally friendly standards will be benefitted by financial incentives, offered by the Suez Canal Authority.
This development comes after another green initiative by Suez Canal, which in December announced that it will reduce rebates on canal tolls for LNG carriers from January 1 till June 30 2022.