The Suez Canal is the main route for world trade, and no other alternative can take its place in the field of maritime transport, Admiral Mohab Mamish, Chairman and Managing Director of the Suez Canal Authority said responding to media reports that vessels are changing routes to the Cape of Good Hope and dropping Suez to save costs.
According to Mamish, the allegations are based on a report by SeaIntell, a Danish research center for maritime traffic analysis.
The report claims that circumventing the Suez Canal on Asia-USEC and Asia-North Europe services might save carriers on average USD 235,000 per voyage as they would not need to pay the canal fee, but that it would add more days to the overall voyage.
In its latest analysis SeaIntel also pointed out that since the end of October 2015, 115 vessels deployed on Asia-USEC and Asia-North Europe services have made the back-haul trip to Asia by sailing south of Africa instead of their routing on the head-haul, with plans to switch more Asia-North Europe sailings to the south of Africa routing in the coming weeks.
“As for the allegation that vessels are changing routes to the Cape of Good Hope, the statistics shows that the number of ships adopting this policy does not exceed 115 ships since October 2015. That number represents 0.6% of the total number of vessels that transited the Canal in 2015, which is a very small percentage that does not show a general tendency in the Canal traffic,” Mamish said.
Regarding the drop in world oil prices and its impact on traffic in the Suez Canal, Adm. Mamish added that despite the decline, February 2016 witnessed a notable increase in revenues, number of transiting vessels and total net tonnage.
As for revenues, February 2016 registered US 401.4 million against USD 381.9 million in February 2015, with an increase equivalent to 5.1%, data from the Suez Canal Authority shows.
As for the number of transiting vessels, it jumped from 1,219 in February 2015, to 1,300 in February 2016 with an increase of 81 vessels equivalent to 6.6%.
The total net tonnages transported in the same month this year reached 77.7 million tons against 73 million tons in the corresponding month last year with an increase of 6.4%.
On the other hand, Mamish added that the Suez Canal has managed to attract two new shipping lines; “PEX 3” of “CMA CGM” starting April 2016, and “Seven Stars Express” starting from the last quarter of 2015, which will add 104 ships to the Canal traffic.
Adm. Mamish further stressed that traffic in the Suez Canal during 2015 showed an increase in the number of transiting vessels and total net tonnage, as 17,483 vessels transited the Suez Canal in 2015 with an increase of 2% compared to 2014. The net tonnages transported through 2015 registered 998.7 million tons in 2015 an increase of 3.7% compared to 2014.
Moreover, the Suez Canal Authority data indicate that the total tonnage of vessels traveling between the East Coast of the United States and the Far East through the Suez Canal has surged from 5 million tons in 2005 to 60 million tons in 2015. That is 12 times higher in 10 years, and is attributed to the Suez Canal’s ability to accommodate the world’s largest ships, a competitive edge over alternative routes.
“The Suez Canal was working in full gear in 2015, and witnessed unprecedented volume of work, carried out in parallel at the same time. We had a large project for establishing the New Suez Canal that coincided with the development project of the Canal Zone and the dredging of the East Port Said Channel. All these activities have been implemented simultaneously, without any interruption or hindrance to navigation. Not only this, but the Suez Canal has registered new records in tonnages, revenues and numbers of transiting vessels,” he went on to say.