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Web alert: Suez Canal expansion

01 July 2015

With the imminent completion of the Suez Canal expansion works (scheduled for 1 August 2015) the maritime industry is poised to reap the benefits of this project, but what does the project consist of and how will it benefit the industry? Contrary to popular belief, the Suez Canal expansion will not make the canal open to two-way traffic along its entire length, but the second channel will improve the efficiency of the canal which is the stated aim of the Egyptian government in this endeavour.

The expansion is the result of one year of work by a consortium of four companies and stretches for 72 km. 35 km of it comprises a second channel running parallel to the original canal. The sections of the canal which are not being served by the second channel will benefit from newly constructed traffic passing points. The system of convoys which have dominated mariners' experiences of using the canal since its construction will remain, but the convoys will become longer, reducing the transit time of vessels by 7 hours, from an average of 18 hours. This reduced transit time is forecast to increase the numbers of vessels transiting the canal each day from 49 to 97. It should be noted, however, that these figures are educated projections until the new system is up and running it is impossible to assess its impact with exactitude.