Home Europe News Suez Canal Incident: Lessons Learned for the Geopolitics of Critical Infrastructure

Suez Canal Incident: Lessons Learned for the Geopolitics of Critical Infrastructure


According to the latest data, ocean and river transport are the most important segments of the world’s total freight as they cover, according to the latest figures, 89.6% in volume and 70.1% in terms of volume. in value, in global totals. Furthermore, they have the advantage of not only being cheaper but also less polluting per ton of cargo than all other modes of transport.

In this business area, mandatory crossing points are shown, from east to west, the Strait of Malacca, the Suez Canal, the Strait of Hormuz, Bab-el-Mandeb, Bosporus, Gibraltar, Panama. You can add the Cape of Hope.

The recent March 23 incident caused the Suez Canal to be completely congested after a container ship ran aground, once again bringing international attention to safety issues for marine vehicles, especially. at required crossovers.

Potential threats to the safety of transit to the Suez Canal are often emphasized as a result of the realization of certain adverse situations. Most “played” scenarios often refer to terrorist attacks that can cause major disruptions in various sectors, especially economics.

Internal, national incidents (threats) are not “of interest” to the public, although their occurrence is more likely because these types of accidents are less analyzed. in terms of relevance.

Safety aspects of the geographic economy:

In short, the Suez Canal incident affected:

  • 12% of global trade
  • One million barrels of oil / day
  • 8% of daily liquefied natural gas transactions
  • $ 14-15 million in daily income ($ 5.7 billion in 2019/2020). Before the pandemic, transport through the Suez Canal accounted for 2% of Egypt’s GDP.
  • 19,000 ships transited by 2019 (more than 50 ships / day)

A recent incident caused the rallying of more than 360 ships until the Canal returned to normal transport. The value of the frozen goods is estimated at more than $ 10 billion.

German insurance company Allianz estimates that congestion of the Suez Canal could reduce annual global growth by 0.2–0.4 percent.

That assessment was supported by the Wall Street Journal, which emphasized that, as a result of the EverGiven shipping container ship incident, shipping costs for shipping vessels traveling between Asia and the Middle East, increased 47%. due to attempts to reroute ships. to avoid the Suez Canal. This added about eight more days of navigation to their travels.

The temporary congestion of the Suez Canal affects not only the global maritime industry and the Egyptian economy, but also a multitude of other companies, including business end consumers and sellers. freight service odd. In addition, quality reports of shipped goods must be issued before the goods reach the end consumer. This figure is quite large, especially considering the more than 18,000 containers on EverGiven, as well as transshipment containers on other ships (transshipment containers account for 28% of the Suez Canal’s transit cargo volume).

Likely due to the financial loss, the feasibility study for commissioning a northern shipping route will be accelerated. Some experts say that is not possible and that the Russian opening of the ice shelf with three submarines is more a propaganda campaign than a possible solution.

Shipping shipping containers, as part of the global logistics chain, can add to the already chaotic situation following pandemic disruptions.

Physical safety aspects

At the time of the collision between the EverGiven container ship on the canal shore, the wind speed was approximately 40 knots. It could be due to a human error or an objective technical consideration, combined with unfavorable weather conditions that caused the problem.

The Suez Canal Authority mentioned that this was not the only reason why a ship was still blocked.

Numerous analyzes of the case – mostly those of risk treatment specialists related to strategic shipping infrastructure – have noted that a serious investigation is needed to draw a clear conclusion. cause of the event is clear and reliable.

Reliable sources claim that Suez is referred to as “the country of Marlboro” and suggests that ‘gifts’ are being given to the train drivers.

The canal is susceptible to obstacles that can occur due to transit, especially in certain sections, such as:

  • The area between Ras El Ish and the El Ballah area of ​​Port Said
  • Container terminal
  • Tewfik harbor

The canal is relatively vulnerable to terrorist acts in the Suez Canal Bridge area, known as the Egypt-Japan Friendship Bridge or the El Ferdan Railroad Bridge, but also in waiting areas on the Lake. Timsah and on Lake Great Bitter.

Military security and intelligence

The Suez Canal is one of the most heavily guarded strategic areas, as it plays an important role as part of an important global transport infrastructure. Very few security-risk incidents have occurred at Canal – the most recent occurred in 2005 and 2009, both quickly resolved.

Egypt’s 3rd Army and its security agencies have the primary task of securing ships passing through the Canal 193 km long, 205 m wide and 24 m deep.

The combination of integrated high-tech equipment (Radars, VTMS and CCTV) and an effective combination of military intelligence and Egyptian security services helps to secure the Canal from attacks.

The biggest security challenge comes from ships that pass through the Canal every day.

  • Channel congestion in hard rock and non-sandy areas, coasts occurring following incidents similar to EverGiven;
  • Detonating IEDs on transit ships
  • The level of risk posed by such a threat is the same for all ships, however the effect varies between ships depending on factors such as vessel type, type of cargo and even nationality. Owner’s.

It is likely that major nations’ navies are interested in streamlining traffic through the Suez Canal in emergency situations to operate rapid intervention subunits in crisis situations such as so with effective interventions for large ships (over 300,000 dwt).

The admiral and former European Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis’ controversial idea about the creation of an international body to manage the security of the straits and channels of navigation is starting to make sense.

It also makes sense that intelligence and security services need to play a bigger role in the future, especially after EverGiven is owned by a Japanese company, operated by a transport company. Taiwan Sea is registered by a German company in Panama and with 25 – crews, all with Indian nationality.

In the 1960s, the United States submitted an advance of the construction of another canal to replace Suez. The establishment of alternative routes should be on the agenda. Turkey will begin construction of the Istanbul Canal in 2021. These are the solutions, though, as incomplete alternatives.

As is the case with all disciplines, the greater interest in improving education may be a good solution, but unfortunately takes a longer time.

A solution must also be found to more safely operate critical infrastructure, which was sometimes stuck in the mid-19th century, but solves the ship-related problems of the 21st century. .

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