ISMAILIA, Egypt (Reuters) - Egypt has deepened its strategic Suez canal to ensure the biggest ships will be able to pass between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean as its revenue, traffic and tonnage perks up from a slow 2009.
The waterway, a barometer for the health of global trade, suffered through the financial crisis as flows shrunk but has seen a decent rebound this year, particularly in tonnage moved.
“There is no ship in the world, if it came to the Suez canal, it won’t cross,” the chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, Ahmed Fadel, told a news conference. “We want to improve crossing for all the big ships.”
The authority this year allowed ships with draughts up to 66 feet (20 metres), which typically carry 220,000 tonnes of cargo, to enter the canal after it was deepened from 62 feet.
Fadel told Reuters the authority was considering a further deepening of the canal to 72 feet, without providing details.
Revenues for the first half of 2010 reached $2.251 billion, up 12.5 percent from the first half of 2009, Fadel said. For the fiscal year 2009/10 revenues were $4.542 billion.
In January, Fadel said the authority would keep its transit fees steady for 2010 and forecast full-year revenue growth of 2.4 percent, after a 20 percent decline in 2009.
The number of ships passing through increased 3.3 percent in the first half of 2010 to 8,651 versus 8,375 in the same period last year, but total tonnage shipped jumped 20 percent to 313.4 million tonnes, he said in Ismailia, on the banks of the canal.