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calendar   Wednesday - August 05, 2015

Dig A Bigger Ditch, Make Money In Your Spare Time

Suez II To Open Tomorrow

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Two years ahead of schedule, Egypt’s $8 Billion project could double traffic, cut transit time, increase allowable ship size ... and make Egypt a fortune?

CAIRO — When construction of the Suez Canal began more than 150 years ago, it took a decade to complete the vital passageway that connects the Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea. The expanded waterway that opens Thursday was completed in only one year, just a third of the time originally planned.

Swift completion of the $8 billion project is being touted by the government as a sign of its competence under President Abdel el-Sissi, the former military commander who ousted and jailed Egypt’s first democratically elected president two years ago.

“This is Egypt’s gift to the world. We promised and we delivered,” said Admiral Mohab Mameesh, the retired commander-in-chief of the Egyptian navy and chairman of the state-owned Suez Canal Authority, which owns and operates the waterway.

The expansion, much of it funded by the sale of investment certificates to private citizens, involved widening and deepening the original waterway and adding a parallel canal nearly 22 miles long. El-Sissi had demanded that the three-year timetable for the project be sped up.

“I think it’s extremely impressive that they have done this very big project in a very short time. That’s astonishing,” said Peter Hinchliffe, secretary-general of the International Chamber of Shipping, who visited the new canal last week.

The widening will increase traffic from 50 ships a day to 97 and reduce the time to travel through the canal from around 18 hours to 11 hours, according to Mahmoud Rezk, director of planning and research at the Suez Canal Authority. Annual profits from the canal will more than double from $5.3 billion to $13.2 billion by 2023, Rezk predicted.

In addition to expanding the canal, the government has ambitious plans to develop a massive industrial and transportation hub nearby that would create jobs and boost an economy ravaged by years of political unrest.

Nice. “Gift to the world”, indeed. But ... is it a gift the world needs now? Or even later?

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“From a shipping industry point of view, this initiative to expand the Suez canal was a bit of a surprise,” said Ralph Leszczynski, Singapore-based head of research at Genoese shipbroker Banchero Costa & Co. “There was no pressing need or requests for this as far as I’m aware.”

Suez has yet to fully recover since the global financial crisis caused shipping to plummet in 2009. Though total tonnage has increased, the number of vessels using the canal remains 20 percent below its 2008 level and just 2 percent higher than a decade ago, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Rather than a bottleneck, analysts say those statistics reflect slower global trade growth, which the International Monetary Fund expects to average 3.4 percent in the period 2007-2016, compared with 7 percent over the previous decade.

The Baltic Dry Index, which measures rates for shipping iron ore, coal and grain and is viewed as a bellwether for the global economy, slumped to a record low 509 points in February. It remains about 90 percent below its all-time high of 11,793 reached in 2008.
...
The government hasn’t made public viability studies to show how it will gain a return on its 64 billion Egyptian pound ($8.2 billion) investment. The expansion will meet future demand, with traffic expected to double to 97 vessels a day by 2023, said Mohab Mameesh, head of the Suez Canal Authority.

“By creating a second lane of the canal we are able to reduce waiting times, which reduces fuel expenditures and costs, with no increase in our toll fees,” he said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Global trade volume would need to rise by around 9 percent a year for Suez to reach its traffic goal, Capital Economics said in a report on Monday, describing the target as “unlikely to say the least.”

Dredging the original canal another 2 meters deep may also allow many “CapeMax” sized ships - those that previously were too deep to transit the canal, and thus had to go the long way around Africa via the Cape of Good Hope [Cape Alguhas actually]- to use the Suez. Currently, the “bounding box” limits the “SuezMax", class of vessels to a maximum draft of 20.1 meters for ships 50m or less in beam, or 12 meters for ships up to 74m in beam. The Suez Canal has no locks; it’s open water from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. This means that there is no length limit for SuezMax ships. An extra meter or two of draft would allow most of the largest ships in the world to use the route.

All we need to do is get the global economy running again.

Security has been stepped up along the canal ahead of tomorrow’s ceremony, which is expected to be attended by el-Sissi and foreign dignitaries.

Military spokesman Brigadier General Mohammed Samir said extra troops have been deployed to ‘deal with threats and potential aggression.’

Some analysts say security remains a concern for foreign investors, whose capital is needed for the next stage of the project - the expansion of the canal zone to include a logistics hub and manufacturing centres.

The canal extension has stirred intense national fervor. Cairo’s Tahrir Square is decked with lights, TV networks are running countdown clocks, and some visitors arriving at Cairo’s airport have been given commemorative passport stamps calling the canal ‘Egypt’s gift to the world.’

One organizer of the opening, interviewed on popular private broadcaster Mahwar, said no one should doubt the project’s grandeur.

‘For those who are skeptical or denying, tell me who they are so that we can drown them in the new canal’s 27-metre depth,’ Sami Abdel-Azizi said.

The TV presenter replied: ‘No, we will do that for you.’


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/05/2015 at 11:27 AM   
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