Egypt lengthening two-way portion of Suez Canal by 10km

Egypt is working to improve the Suez Canal by making an additional 10km accessible to two-way traffic, while widening and deepening another 30 kilometers, Suez Canal Authority Chairman Osama Rabie said on Tuesday February 15th.

He said at a news conference that it would be too expensive to widen the entire length of the Canal. The existing two-way portion would be lengthened to 85km from 75km, he said.

Rabie was speaking on a dredger north of Suez, about 2km from where ultra-large container ship Ever Given became stuck for six dayslast March.

The expansion had been scheduled to start in January this year, but the timetable was accelerated after the accident, he said. The work aims mainly to increase traffic safety. Once finished, the transit time to pass through the canal will remain at about 11 hours, Rabie said.

The second phase of the project will consist of widening the 30km portion extending south to the mouth of the canal. This will be achieved by excavating 40 meters out of its eastern side. This portion, where the Ever Given was grounded, will also be deepened by six feet. Rabie accepted that, given the increasing size of global container ships over the years that this section was “a difficult portion of the canal.” He said that “the deepening and widening will smooth out the bends in the canal at that point,” as well as reducing the impact of southerly winds.

The project will cost the equivalent of about $190m and will be completed and inaugurated by the end of June 2023, he said.

Separately, Rabie told CNBC Arabia that the SCA was is considering listing the shares of some of the companies it owns on Egypt’s stock exchange, and that it expected to sell 20% stakes in two or three, those being Canal Rope, Canal Harbor and Great Projects.