‘Kra’ Canal to alter World’s Busiest Shipping Route?



Andy Lane, CTI Consultancy, Singapore


This paper analyses the proposed Kra Canal that could shortly drive through Thailand, thereby providing a crucial new route for cargo ships traversing the Asian region. The key areas this paper addresses are the overall impact the Kra Canal would have on the supply chain, as well as the economic viability of the project as a whole.

Talk of a Kra Canal is not new; this subject has been considered many times over the past few hundred years and there have been many suggestions as to the route it should take. Decisions such as this will always be determined by factors of length and terrain. The commonly suggested preferred route is from the Andaman Sea coast in Southern Satun (adjacent to Ko Tarutao) towards Songkhla Lake in the Gulf of Thailand (as shown in Figure 1). This route would be approximately 100 kilometres, or 54 nautical miles.

Malacca traffic

The Strait of Malacca is the shortest sea route between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, as well as being the busiest shipping channel in the world. It is just over 430 nautical miles in length (796 kilometres), one kilometre wide at its narrowest point, and 25 metres deep at it shallowest. It is classified as an International Waterway, being administered jointly by Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore; therefore it is toll-free. As it is toll-free and has no specific (commercial) owner, apart from vessel traffic safety and control, it is not maintained.

In recent years, there has …

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