Great Britain

Suez Canal starts work to extend double lane after Ever Given grounding

Egypt has started dredging work to extend a second lane that allows for two-way traffic in a southern section of the canal near to where a giant container ship got stuck for six days in March.

The state-owned Suez Canal Authority (SCA) announced last week that it was planning to extend a second canal lane that opened in 2015 by 10km to make it 82km long, and would widen and deepen a single lane stretch at the southern end of the canal.

The work had begun following directives from Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi “to immediately start implementing the proposed development plan and put in place a timetable for completion as soon as possible”, the SCA said on Saturday.

The grounding of the 440-metre-long Ever Given container ship in a southern section of the canal from 23 to 29 March delayed the passage of hundreds of vessels through the waterway, disrupting global trade.

The new project will extend the two-way section south of the Great Bitter Lake and will be carried out in part by the largest dredger in the Middle East, the Mohab Mamish, which arrived in Egypt last month.

The Ever Given, still loaded with thousands of containers, is being held in the Great Bitter Lake between two stretches of the canal, amid a dispute over an SCA compensation claim against the ship’s Japanese owner Shoei Kisen.

The six-day blockage in March disrupted global shipments. Some ships were forced to take the long alternate route around the Cape of Good Hope at Africa’s southern tip, requiring additional fuel and other costs. Hundreds of other ships waited in place for the blockage to end.

About 10% of world trade flows through the canal, a pivotal source of foreign currency to Egypt. About 19,000 vessels passed through the canal last year, according to official figures.

Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

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