The project to expand parts of the Suez Canal is expected to be completed, after two years of work, in July 2023, the chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA).
The SCA announced the acceleration of plans to expand a second canal channel and widen an existing canal after the container ship Ever Given ran aground last year and blocked the waterway for six days.
“The project will be completed in 24 months. We start in July 2021 and, God willing, we will finish in July 2023,” Chairman Osama Rabie said on the sidelines of an event in Dubai.
Ships pass through the canal in convoys, and the expansion of the second lane will increase capacity by six ships, Rabie said, without giving further details.
The southernmost 30 km of the canal, where the Ever Given ran aground, will be widened 40 meters to the east and deepened to 72 feet from 66 feet, according to previously announced plans.
“This will improve navigation for ships by 28% in this difficult part of the canal,” Rabie said.
The Suez Canal Authority and its companies were developing the entire project, he said.
Asked about Iranian fuel or oil shipments passing through the Suez Canal despite U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil sales, he said, “There is no discrimination when it comes to a country’s flag on ships, and Iranian oil does pass through the canal.”
The Lebanese armed group Hezbollah imported Iranian fuel last year, a move it said was intended to address shortages. The shipments were made through Syria to avoid complications with sanctions.