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Industrialization and technological advancements have increased the global demand of natural resources. In this process, nations have strived to come up with innovative and creative means of acquiring, processing, and transporting these scarce resources (Kaija, 2012). For over a century now, the demand for oil and natural gas has been increasing over time. This demand has been triggered by the industrial growth particularly in the United States of America and Western Europe.
Given this high demand, these nations have been forces to acquire these resources from Northern Africa and South West Asia (Kaija, 2012). In this respect, the Suez Canal plays an important role in the acquisition of natural gas and oil as it eases the cost of transportation of these products that would have otherwise been transported around Africa through the Cape of Good Hope.
History of the Suez Canal
As asserted by (author and year), the Suez Canal is considered as one of the most important waterways in the contemporary world. The geographical position of this waterway enables it to acts as a shortcut between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea saving costs and shipping time. As such, it saves a maritime voyage of approximately 7000km around Africa (Bayer, 2013).
Completed on the 17th of November 1869, the Suez Canal handles approximately 2.5% of the global oil and natural gas transportation (Bayer, 2013). Historically, this canal has been of great importance especially during the colonial era since it provided colonial powers such as Great Britain, Germany, and France trade routes and access to colonies especially to India and South East Asia. It is due to this fact that Great Britain referred to the Suez Canal as the “Life Line of the Empire”.
Transportation Across the Canal
Being the shortest distance between Port Said in the Mediterranean Sea and the Port of Suez on the Red Sea, the Suez Canal is the busiest waterway in the world handling a variety of cargos all year round. In 2010, for instance petroleum products accounted for 13% of the total cargo that passed through the canal while liquefied natural gas accounted for 11% (Dymock, 2010). From these figures, it is evident that this canal plays a critical role in the transportation of oil and natural gas from North Africa and South West Asia to Western Europe and the United States.
Additionally, the canal has a 200 mile SUMED pipeline that is used as an alternative for transporting oil and natural gas. This pipeline was developed since the canal cannot handle Very Large Crude Oil Carries and Ultra Large Crude Oil Carries. As such, this pipeline is capable of transporting 2.5 million barrels of crude oil daily (Dymock, 2010). It is therefore believed that the disruption of this pipeline will have a more devastating effect as compared to the closure of the canal itself in terms of transportation of oil and natural gas.
Additional Benefits of the Canal
In additional to the transportation of cargo, the canal also supports the military activities of the United States and Western Europe states especially with regards to the protection of the foreign interests. For instance, the United States army highly relies on this canal to move its personnel and equipment to volatile areas in the Middle East such as Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq (Michaels, 2013). Thus, from a critical point of view, it is evident that the Suez Canal has a geostrategic significance that not only enhances the transportation, economy, and military operations of Egypt but the entire globe.
Bayer, A. (2013). Yearly Number & Net Tone by Ship Type, Direction & Ship Status. Chicago: Wiley and Sons.
Dymock, A. (2010). Maritime Surveillance in Support of CSDP. New York: Sage Publications.
Kaija, H. (2012). The Human Cost of Maritime Piracy. London: One Earth Future.
Michaels, J. (2013). U.S. military needs Egypt for access to critical area. Web.