Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Suez Canal: an overprotected but still fragile infrastructure

Written by Gérard Tur on Tuesday, October 19th 2021 à 10:10 | Read 371 times

Despite the blocking of the canal for several days, the traffic is still progressing. Photo DR
Despite the blocking of the canal for several days, the traffic is still progressing. Photo DR
MEDITERRANEAN. The Provence regional association of the auditors of the Institut des Hautes Études de Défense Nationale (IHEDN) organised on 7 October in Marseille the "2019-2021 studies forum". During this period, the association produced three reports on highly strategic and conflictual sites: the Straits of Gibraltar and the Bosphorus as well as the Suez Canal.

The Suez Canal remains one of the best known maritime infrastructures in the world. 19,000 ships pass through it every year. Almost all of Asia-Europe freight traffic, i.e. 10% of world trade, as well as a large number of submarine telecommunication cables pass through it. "It is a gigantic structure that is indispensable for Europe because almost all the goods it consumes pass through this bottleneck," explains Bernard Dreyer, a sworn ship broker and director of studies at the IHEDN Provence.

A "frequentation" that is increasing. On 29 September 2021, a record was broken with eighty-seven ships (eighteen container ships, twenty-six bulk carriers, eighteen large oil tankers, ten vessels carrying liquefied natural gas and fifteen of other types). Despite the grounding of Ever Given, the number of ships increased by 6.7% during the first eight months of the year.
The fall in tourism and the drop in remittances from Egyptian expatriates, as a result of Covid, make the work the country's main source of foreign currency, with no less than $5.84bn (€5.03bn) in revenue last year. In the first eight months of 2021, the turnover jumped by 11.6%.
"The channel is very narrow and is regularly blocked, with enormous consequences,"
notes Bernard Dreyer. In addition, there are threats to the infrastructure, with the latent Iran/Israel conflict and the presence of terrorist groups in the Sinai. Fortunately, "the canal is very well defended militarily by Egypt, which has put in a lot of resources," continues the director of studies at IHEDN Provence, who notes "a very strong cooperation between the French and Egyptian armed forces."


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