Suez Canal Sets New Record for Traffic Volume

MSC Istanbul (above) was one of 87 vessels to transit the canal on Wednesday (SCA)

Published Oct 1, 2021 10:35 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Suez Canal Authority has shattered its record for the daily number of ships passing through the strategic waterway. On Wednesday, it handled a total of 87 vessels, easily surpassing the previous record of 75, which was set on February 6, 2019.

Vessels with a total tonnage of 4.8 million dwt traversed the waterway in both directions on Wednesday, including 38 from the north and 49 from the south. The ships that passed through the canal on Wednesday included 18 container ships, 26 bulkers, 18 large oil tankers, 10 gas carriers and 15 ships of other types.

The new record, coming six months after the giant boxship Ever Given went aground and blocked traffic along this critical maritime chokepoint, has validated SCA's desire to accelerate an expansion of the canal.

The $10 billion project, which will involve the widening and deepening of the southern part of the canal, is expected to expand its capacity to 97 ships per day and more than double its annual revenues to $13 billion. 

About 12 percent of the world trade volume passes through the Canal, making it one of the world’s busiest waterways. It is a strategic national treasure for Egypt, generating $5.6 billion in revenues in 2020. In the first eight months of this year, the canal raked in $3.8 billion, despite the disruption of the Ever Given shutdown. 

Last year, 18,829 ships with a total net tonnage of 1.17 billion passed through the canal. The average daily traffic typically ranges from 40 to 50 ships.