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Egypt considers expansion of Suez Canal to avoid further incidents

The container ship 'Ever Given' is refloated, unblocking the Suez Canal on March 29, 2021 in Suez, Egypt [Mahmoud Khaled/Getty Images]
The container ship 'Ever Given' is refloated, unblocking the Suez Canal on March 29, 2021 in Suez, Egypt [Mahmoud Khaled/Getty Images]

Head of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Osama Rabie has announced that Egypt is studying the expansion of the canal to avoid further incidents similar to the grounding of the Ever Given cargo ship, which lead to six days of navigation disruption.

On Thursday evening, Rabie confirmed to CNN that there is no need to increase the canal's depth (24 metres).

The canal's total length is 193 kilometres and consists of two northern parallel waterways and one route in the south with a width of 345 metres, which is the section in which the 400-meter-long ship ran aground.

Egypt inaugurated a parallel channel to the northern section of the Suez Canal in 2015, at the cost of $8 billion.

Rabie did not specify in his statements whether the potential expansion would include a 70-kilometre parallel channel for the section in which the ship was stuck.

READ: Suez Canal Authority says Egypt will seek $1 billion in damages

This expansion plan would allow for navigation in the canal, even in the case of similar incidents.

Earlier this week, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said that it is possible to consider expanding the canal's southern part.

During his visit to the Suez Canal, El-Sisi explained that "it is up to the technicians," adding that he does not want to take measures based on exceptional situations, with reference to the Ever Given incident.

On 23 March, the cargo ship Ever Given ran aground while crossing the Suez Canal after being hit by a sandstorm. This led to the canal's closure and the disruption of navigation, which caused chaos in global trade activities.

The SCA was able to float the ship on 29 March, with the help of international companies, allowing for the resumption of navigation in the canal.

The Egyptian authorities are holding the ship at the Great Bitter Lake near the Suez Canal, pending an investigation into the cause of the occurrence.

Egypt is seeking $1 billion in damages for lost revenue due to the disruption of navigation in the canal.

The Suez Canal is the shortest route between Asia and Europe and is one of the busiest shipping lanes globally.

About 12 per cent of total world trade passes through the canal, including 10 per cent of oil shipments and 8 per cent of gas supplies.

The Suez Canal Authority announced the success of efforts to refloat the stranded massive container ship and reopen the canal to maritime traffic [Zeynep Öztürk/Anadolu Agency]

The Suez Canal Authority announced the success of efforts to re-float the stranded massive container ship and reopen the canal to maritime traffic [Zeynep Öztürk/Anadolu Agency]

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