The blocking of the Suez Canal is likely to act as a major catalyst for producing financing for the various plans to build alternative trade routes via Israel to link the Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea, sources in the logistics sector believe.
Three main 'Suez Canal bypass" infrastructure plans are being considered. The first is the construction of the Eilat to Ashkelon oil pipeline, which would be part of an oil pipeline from the Gulf to the Mediterranean; the second project is a railway line from Dubai via Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and linking up with the Beit Shean - Haifa line; the third project is a railway line from Eilat to Ashdod.
These projects will cost an estimated tens of billions of dollars and have not moved forward mainly because of difficulties in raising money for the venture from international bodies including the Chinese government and the European Union. A contract was already signed in Dubai last October for laying the Eilat to Ashkelon oil pipeline and more recently plans for extending the Haifa-Beit Shean railway eastwards to the Jordanian border were approved. But these projects are far from having budget allocated let alone the start of construction.
Meanwhile there have been reports in the shipping and logistics sector of initial talks to transport urgent cargoes, which would be offloaded at Eilat and taken by truck to Ashdod before being loaded onto ships sailing to Europe, if the blockage of the Suez Canal and the resulting jam of ships is not resolved.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 29, 2021
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