Russia, Iran suggest various maritime routes amid Suez Canal blockage

CAIRO — The March 24 accident of the large Panamanian container ship Ever Given sparked reviews about the way forward for the Egyptian Suez Canal amid talks about various industrial transport tasks.

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) managed to free the ship on March 29 after being stranded within the canal for almost per week, and maritime site visitors subsequently resumed.

Together with the SCA and the Japanese firm that owns the ship, navigation consultants launched on March 30 investigations into the circumstances and causes of the ship’s grounding.

SCA Chairman Osama Rabie informed Al-Monitor, “The accident remains to be underneath cautious investigation to find out its causes.” Rabie defined that “the transport course of the canal is totally protected now, and all ships that have been delayed are actually going by the canal.”

As a whole bunch of ships and tankers have been held up, Russia sought to advertise its northern sea route. In line with a report revealed by the Russian Moscow Occasions on March 26, the Kremlin hopes to show the Suez Canal blockage in Egypt right into a long-term acquire.

The Russian state agency Rosatomflot enumerated in a sequence of tweets March 26 (which have been later deleted) the causes that make it mandatory to think about the Russian northern sea route as a substitute for the Suez Canal route. He stated that Russia is utilizing probably the most highly effective nuclear icebreakers to enhance accessibility for maritime site visitors within the North Sea at a time when the fast melting of the Arctic is making it very straightforward for ships to cross by.

Concurrently, Iranian Ambassador to Russia Kazem Jalali known as by his Fb account on March 27 for the activation of an alternate worldwide hall to the Suez Canal, particularly the Worldwide North-South Transport Hall, which he described as a “low threat” route.

Throughout his go to to the Suez Canal on March 30, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi commented on calls to supply alternate options to the Egyptian Suez Canal by saying that “this accident confirmed that the Suez Canal is crucial transport passage able to competing as a world facility by which 12 to 13% of the worldwide commerce quantity goes.”

Rabie agreed, saying that “the latest accident gave greater standing and larger significance to the Suez Canal as crucial international commerce hall.”

He additionally confused that there have been calls to “resort to the Cape of Good Hope hall regardless of the extra 15 days wanted for transit and the larger use of gasoline in comparison with the Suez Canal route.”

Rabie defined that “the Suez Canal has nothing to do with” the latest accident, including, “The occasion won’t have an effect on the way forward for the Suez Canal however moderately help its international presence.”

In statements to Al-Monitor, consultants and specialists within the area of maritime transport stated the latest disaster drew consideration to the significance of the continual modernization of kit and the navigation path of the SCA, because it confirmed the world how essential this route is and that various corridors can certainly not substitute the Egyptian canal.

Wael Kaddour, the previous SCA vice chairman, informed Al-Monitor over the cellphone, “The latest disaster, albeit very extreme, has significantly benefited the Suez Canal and has drawn the eye of officers to quite a few points. Chief amongst these is the necessity to improve tools and purchase new tugboats. The biggest tug within the SCA’s fleet has a tensile energy of 160 tons, which isn’t adequate to take care of main incidents such because the EVER GIVEN ship incident.”

“It’s such a delicate course of for contemporary container ships to cross the canal, and we should consequently take all precautions within the occasion of robust winds and possibly quickly cease the transit of such ships with the intention of preserving them and the transport course itself,” Kaddour added.

He defined, “The latest incident revealed the significance of this financial artery (the Suez Canal), and it’s certainly not attainable to exchange it with one other waterway having fun with the identical degree of significance. We should speed up the completion of the Suez Canal hall improvement mission in an effort to profit from the institution of logistical areas and companies for ships.”

Kaddour talked about various tasks for the Suez Canal, saying that “any comparability will likely be in favor of the Suez Canal. For instance, 18,800 ships handed by the Egyptian Suez Canal in 2020 with a complete tonnage of 1.17 billion tons, whereas solely 62 ships with a complete tonnage of 30 million tons handed by the northern Russian sea route throughout the identical yr.”

Mohi al-Sayeh, dean of the School of Maritime Transport on the Arab Academy for Science, Expertise and Maritime Transport, informed Al-Monitor, “The statements that proposed various options to the Suez Canal are opinions of a political moderately than financial and industrial nature, because the Suez Canal is a key artery of world commerce linking the East with the West in addition to facilities of manufacturing and distribution.”

Sayeh added, “The presence of a navigation hall akin to the Suez Canal within the close to future is kind of elusive, because the Egyptian canal shouldn’t be a mean navigation hall however one which has all the protection elements for ships by way of maritime navigation. The width of the hall reaches 500 meters at some factors. It’s a hall whose depth reaches as much as 24 meters. It’s also largely straight, and navigation by it’s extensively protected and simple.”

He identified that “there are difficulties dealing with the Russian North Sea mission in an effort to compete with the Suez Canal, together with the truth that it’s lined with snow a lot of the yr, and crusing in snow has its risks because it requires ships of particular nature and capabilities. This mission is on no account a robust competitor to the Suez Canal, and if it have been to compete with the canal, then such competitors could be seasonal and weak.”

He confused “the necessity to benefit from the latest incident to modernize the SCA’s rescue fleets and improve the variety of tugs utilized in towing stranded ships in preparation for any attainable contingencies.”

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