Cargo traffic at Suez Canal rises

Traffic movements through the canal are showing signs of improvement. (AFP)

The volume of cargo carried by both the northbound and southbound ships through the Suez Canal rose by 11.7 per cent in December last year, compared to the same month a year ago, according to traffic statistics figures released by the Suez Canal Authority.

Last month, the volume of cargo transiting through the Suez Canal from the Mediterranean Sea side to the Red Sea and beyond increased by 16.8 per cent year-on-year (yoy), while traffic to the opposite side also registered an increase of 7.1 per cent.

While in December 2008, 21,535,000 tonnes of cargo moved through the canal from north to south direction, it rose to 25,156,000 tonnes last month. Similarly, the northbound traffic in December 2008 was 23,794,000 tonnes that increased to 25,484,000 tonnes last month.

Overall, the cargo volume rose to 50,640,000 tonnes last month, compared to 45,329,000 tonnes in December 2008, the data showed.

The canal is a key maritime route between Europe and the regions lying around the Indian Ocean and western Pacific Ocean. Traffic movements through the canal are showing signs of improvement. In November last year the volume of cargo transiting from the north to south direction had increased by 2.3 per cent year-on-year.

Last month also saw almost one per cent increase in net tonnage of ships. While in December 2008, the net tonnage was 66,935,000 tonnes, it increased to 67,519,000 tonnes last month. This increase resulted from the increase in the net tonnage of oil tankers, LNG ships, bulk carriers, general cargo, passenger ships and others. However, the net tonnage of container ships declined by 11.2 per cent, from 39,857,000 tonnes in December 2008 to 35,406,000 tonnes last month.

However, when it comes to comparing whole year figures of 2009 and 2008, the cumulative cargo volume in both directions declined by 22.6 per cent last year. While in 2008, a total of 30,956,300 tonnes of cargo moved from north to south direction, it slipped by 4.6 per cent to 29,535,500 tonnes last year. Similarly, 41,342,100 tonnes of cargo moved from south to north in 2008, it declined by 36.2 per cent to 26,389,000 tonnes last year.

Moreover, there was almost a seven per cent decrease in the number of transits last month. In December 2008, a total of 1,560 ships transited through the canal, it slipped to 1,452 vessels last month. However, the number of oil tankers transiting increased from 280 vessels in December 2008 to 308 last month. Similarly, the number of LNG ships and bulk carriers also increased compared to December 2008. Transits by container ships, however, declined by 20 per cent, from 641 ships in December 2008 to 512 last month.

There was a decline of 19.6 per cent in the number of transits by ships last year, compared to a year ago. While in 2008, a total of 21,415 ships transited, it declined to 17,228 ships last year. Similarly, the net tonnage also declined last year by 19.3 per cent. While transits by oil tankers declined by 8.3 per cent from 3,795 vessels to 3,479 vessels last year, container ship transits dropped by 25.5 per cent from 8,156 vessels in 2008 to 6,080 vessels last year.

 

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