Terminal operator APM Terminals (APMT) has announced the opening of the new Suez Canal 8.5 km access channel linking East Port Said to the Mediterranean Sea.
The new access channel, which is 18.5 m deep, eliminates the need for vessels heading to the Suez Canal Container Terminal (SCCT) to wait six to eight hours for a time window between vessel convoys transiting the canal.
The project, which represents an investment of approximately US$40m and was completed within three months, provides the ultra-large container vessels (ULCVs) with 24-hour access to East Port Said and SCCT, where APMT owns a 55% share.
The Egyptian government agreed to build the channel as part of the fifth amendment made to the terminal concession, signed in 2007.
Speaking to media in August 2015, Klaus Holm Laursen, CEO of Suez Canal Container Terminal (SCCT), said that in order to attract foreign investors it was vital for the Egyptian government to prove its competence in delivering projects.
In August 2015, a project to deepen the Suez Canal and excavate a new 35 km channel to a depth of 24 m and a width of 320 m was completed, allowing two ships to pass at the same time.
Existing western by-passes over a 37 km stretch were also deepened to a depth of 66 ft (24 m), bringing the total length of the new canal to 72 km.
The completed project, which increased the canal’s traffic capacity from 49 to 97 vessels daily, was expected to reduce southbound transit times from 18 hours to 11 hours and also means that the grounding of a ship in the canal will have a less catastrophic impact.