In mid-June landmark stages were reached in the Suez Canal dredging and Panama Canal construction projects. Over 216 million cubic meters of water-saturated sand had been removed thus far as part of the Suez Canal Development Project, representing 84% of a total of 250 million cubic metres that should be dredged as part of the project.
Thirty-eight dredgers were working on the project and the scope of works included the widening and deepening of the Suez Canal over a length of 25 km and up to a depth of 24m. The expansion project paves the way for a transit of ships of up to 20m in draught, thus increasing the revenue of the canal to $17 billion per annum. During the dredging period, only one convoy is allowed inside the Suez canal – a convoy will not enter the canal until another convoy exits from Port Said or Suez. Meanwhile the Panama Canal took another important step toward the completion of the Expansion Program as it began to fill the lower chamber of the new Atlantic locks.
During an initial phase of filling, which took approximately five days, the Canal Authority will gradually raise the water level within the lower chambers of the new locks, pumping in approximately 50 thousand cubic metres of water per hour from Gatun Lake. This will allow for the testing of the first gates. The same process will then fill the rest of the Atlantic sections of locks, reaching a water level of 27m above sea level. Tests and inspections are expected to take approximately four months.