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Egypt plans to expand Suez Canal for higher volumes of shipping

The plan to expand the canal could prevent blockages from halting traffic and speed up transit times

Egypt plans to expand Suez Canal for higher volumes of shipping
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

As the Suez Canal is seeing a sharp fall in revenue, a 40% dip at the start of 2024, due to shipping companies diverting away from the waterway because of attacks by Houthi militants against ships in the Red Sea, Egypt is carrying out a feasibility study on further expanding the waterway.

Further expansions of the Suez Canal, the shortest route between Europe and Asia, could allow for higher volumes of shipping, prevent blockages from halting traffic, and speed up transit times. The waterway carries 12% of global maritime trade.

The project is meant to turn single-lane segments — 50 kilometers in the northern segment and 30 kilometers in its southern part — into double-lane crossings.

Work is already underway to extend the second channel by 10 kilometers after the Ever Given, a giant container ship, ran aground in a single-lane section of the canal in March 2021, stopping traffic for six days.

This announcement will be added on top of the work underway, with studies on the likelihood of an expansion stating that it would take 16 months and would include feasibility, environmental, and engineering studies, as well as soil and dredging research, Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Chairman Osama Rabie said in a statement.

Moreover, the statement added that the canal expansion would be funded via the SCA’s investment budget to deter any additional burdens on the state’s general budget.

The canal is a key source of scarce foreign currency for Egypt, which spent an estimated $8.2 billion on a canal expansion that opened in 2015.

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