The original Suez Canal was opened in 1869 and it was and still remains one of the greatest feats of the maritime industry. The canal allowed ships to travel more directly between Asia and Europe by reducing the sea voyage distance by about 7,000km (4,300 miles). It was wide only for one-way traffic.
About 150 years later, the Egyptian government realised the need to increase capacity in the canal. On August 5, 2014, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) unveiled new plans for an additional lane to allow the transit of ships in both directions over a greater length of the canal.
The New Suez Canal Project was aimed at improving the country’s economy. The second lane would reduce waiting times for transiting ships, facilitate traffic in two directions and increase the number of ships allowed in the waterway. SCA expects revenues to increase from US$5.3 billion at present to US$13.2 billion by 2023 due to the additional lane.
The client had one major stipulation – all the works had to be completed within a year. Due to the tight project deadline and the sheer amount of work, the contract was awarded by SCA to six dredging companies from two consortia. The Challenge Consortium comprised of National Marine Dredging Company (NMDC) from Abu Dhabi; Dutch dredging companies, Royal Boskalis Westminster (Boskalis) and Van Oord; and Jan De Nul NV (subsidiary of Jan De Nul Group) from Belgium. The second consortium ….
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