Suez Canal revenue hit record $6.3bn in 2021

Egypt's waterway earned 13 per cent more last year than in 2020, despite 'Ever Given' blockage

About 20,694 ships used the Suez Canal in 2021, more than 56 vessels a day. Reuters
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Revenue from Egypt’s Suez Canal hit a record $6.3 billion last year.

It was an increase of nearly 13 per cent compared with $5.6bn in 2020, the canal authority said.

The vital waterway, through which at least 10 per cent of global trade passes, also posted record cargo volumes in 2021.

The records coincide with an increase in global shipping demand during the Covid-19 pandemic over the past couple of years.

They also come despite the six-day blockage of the canal in March, when the giant Ever Given container ship ran aground in a sandstorm and stopped global trade.

Almost 1.57 billion tonnes of cargo was shipped through the canal last year, compared with 1.17 billion tonnes in 2020, an 8.5 per cent increase.

Authorities said 20,694 ships transited the canal in 2021 – up from 18,830 in 2020 – or more than 56 vessels a day.

The authority may have lost up to $95 million in fees during the six days, said Ranjith Raja, oil research manager at Refinitiv.

The incident also resulted in the loss of billions in global trade, highlighting the waterway’s importance. Last year it accounted for about 15.7 per cent of the world’s total seaborne trade, the authority said.

“One of the things that Ever Given did more than anything else is it really showcased the importance of global trade and how vital shipping, the Suez Canal and the seaways are for everyone’s daily life,” Salvatore Mercogliano, a maritime historian at Campbell University in North Carolina, told The National.

In the 152 years since it opened in November 1869 to November 2021, 1.4 million ships carrying 24.7 billion tonnes of cargo have navigated the waterway, paying more than $147bn in fees.

The authority said it will increase transit fees by 6 per cent starting in February, but cruise ships and vessels carrying liquefied natural gas will be exempt.

When the authority announced the decision in November, it said demand for maritime transport was expected to increase by up to 6.7 per cent in 2022, according to projections from the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation.

The increased fees will help the authority to develop the waterway as part of its $10bn plan to widen and deepen the southern single-lane portion.

It comes after a major expansion in northern sections that was completed in 2015 and has helped to increase the number of ships a day that can transit the channel.

By 2023, expected annual revenue will hit $13.2bn with an average of 97 vessels a day.

Updated: January 03, 2022, 12:15 PM