Suez Canal Fires Back: Vast Majority of Ships Not Taking Cape of Good Hope Route

Mike Schuler
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March 10, 2016

File photo: Shutterstock

The Suez Canal Authority has fired back against news reports claiming that vessels are now changing their routes to around the southern tip of Africa due to lower oil prices and overcapacity instead of using the Suez Canal. 

Managing Director of the Suez Canal Authority Admirad Mohab Mamish dismissed any such reports in the news as being exaggerated, saying that the Suez Canal continues to be the main route for world trade and that no other alternative can even be considered in the field of maritime transport.

His statement follows new reports that containership overcapacity and rock-bottom bunker costs have led carriers to divert multiple sailings away from Suez Canal and around Cape of Good Hope. The reports were based on a report by the Danish maritime analysis firm SeaIntel, which showed that since the end of October 2015, 115 vessels deployed on Asia-U.S. East Coast and Asia-North Europe services have made the back-haul trip to Asia by sailing around the Cape of Good Hope rather than through the Panama and Suez canals despite using them on the head-haul legs.

To drive home his point, Admiral Mamish said that traffic in the Suez Canal during 2015 showed an increase in the number of transiting vessels and total net tonnage, with 17,483 vessel transits and 998.7 million tons transported through the Suez Canal in 2015. This represents 2% increase in vessel transits and a 3.7% increase in tonnage compared to 2014, Mamish said.

As for containerships in the Suez Canal, the total net tonnage jumped from only 536.3 million tons in 2014 to 555.6 million tons in 2015, representing an increase of 3.6%.

“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,” the statement from Mamish said. “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.”

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