Turkey’s Canal Istanbul a ‘strategic project’

Project aims to provide relief to shipping traffic between Black Sea and Sea of Marmara

Merve Aydogan   | 12.06.2018
Turkey’s Canal Istanbul a ‘strategic project’


Turkey continues its landmark projects, including an artificial sea-level waterway, Canal Istanbul, which will be parallel to the Bosphorus and will connect the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara.

Turkish president frequently speaks of the Canal Istanbul project and during a television interview on June 8 he described the project as a “strategic” one.

“It is a strategic project. One who does not understand Canal Istanbul project can neither understand Istanbul nor Turkey,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

Similarly, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also recently stressed that the Canal Istanbul project is indeed a “strategic project” rather than a “recreation project”.

In fact, the project is strategic as it will not only provide relief to shipping traffic at the Bosphorus but also provide safe passage for the ships.

In 2011, Erdogan had introduced the project as his “crazy project”, which was listed in the country’s 2023 goals.

The Canal Istanbul project is going to be the city’s largest project, Erdogan said in April 2018. In the same speech, he announced that the construction of the mega project would begin in his new term after election.

'World Brand'

Underscoring the project as a “world brand” in many of his speeches, Erdogan also recalled the incident that took place in April when a ship hit the shore of the Bosphorus Strait and crashed into a historic Istanbul mansion, causing extensive damage.

“If we don’t want to see other tanker or mansion disasters in the Bosphorus, I remind you once again why building Canal Istanbul is a must,” Erdogan previously said.

Turkish Transportation, Maritime and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan had earlier announced that Canal Istanbul is one of the country’s biggest projects and said: “Right now, our country's biggest project is the third airport [in Istanbul] with [a cost of] around €10.5 billion ($12.8 billion), but, Canal Istanbul will be bigger [in value].”

Arslan also said the government is expecting to generate approximately $8 billion revenue per annum from Canal Istanbul.

The 45-kilometer (nearly 28 miles) canal, which will be built in Istanbul's Kucukcekmece-Sazlidere-Durusu corridor, is to boast a capacity of 160 vessels a day and is scheduled to be completed by 2023 at a cost of approximately $15 billion. The project is going to be built through build-operate-transfer finance model.

According to the information obtained by Anadolu Agency from Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning, the depth of the canal will be nearly 25 kilometers (16 miles) and the width will change from 250 meters to 1,000 meters allowing maneuver space for the ships.

The measurements of ships that would pass through the new Canal Istanbul have also been determined.

Seoul offers support

In this context, a shuttle tanker with 275-meter length and 48-meter width would be allowed to carry maximum 145,000 deadweight tonnage (DWT), while A 340-meter long and 48.2-meter width container ship would carry maximum 120,000 DWT.

Separately, during Turkish president's visit to South Korea in May 2018, the canal project came up, said Seung Soo Lee, senior vice president at SK Engineering and Construction (SK E&C).

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said during the visit that his country will be happy to give support to the project.

"We took part in Turkey's Eurasia Tunnel and Canakkale 1915 Bridge projects and we have experience in the country," said Seung.

As government praises this mega project, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem Ince opposes the project and claims it is a “luxury” for the country.

“I will not build it. No. While there are so many difficulties, am I to build a canal with country’s billions of dollars. Unfortunately, no,” he said.

However, Ince missed the point in financing of the project as it will not be financed by the government but rather by build-operate-transfer finance model, which allows a concession to a private company to finance, build and operate a project.

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