Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

The great Suez Canal - conceived in Pharaonic times and built by a French entrepreneur - which links the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, will be going in for a facelift. The trouble is that the Canal, just 5.25 m deep, is too shallow to accommodate the huge supertankers that now carry most of the world's oil shipment through the route.

Egyptian authorities have decided to deepen the Canal to a depth of 4.23 rn - nearly triple the . 0 11 rn that seemed sufficient to Ferdinand de Lesseps, the engineer who led the Suez Canal project in the mid-19th century. However, they are not convinced that the us $1.5 billion cost of a hurried dredging project would be cost-effective.

Instead, it would be better to do a bit-by-bit dredging as part of the canal's regular maintenance, feel the authorities, while asserting that the project would not be completed until AD 2010. But several experts doubt if it will be at all wise, from an environmental standpoint, to encourage supertankers to load and unload at sea.

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