A Rather Large Canal

No, not Suez, the Panama widening or even the one proposed for Nicaragua.

This one is in the Middle East.

The 950km long Salman Canal will link the Arabian Gulf with the Arabian Sea, 630km in Saudi Arabia and 320km in Yemen. The Arab Century Centre for Studies that has proposed the canal said it will be 150 metres wide and 25 metres deep, allowing Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE to export their oil and gas, avoiding the Strait of Hormuz, the same Straits with all those awkward geopolitical issues.

An alternative route avoids Yemen and goes through Oman instead.

Salman Canal

They estimate the canal will cost $80 Billion, much of the cost due to the 700m above sea level obstacles in Oman and Yemen.

It is only a proposal at this stage but like pipelines, it could have a significant impact on the politics of the region.



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September 27, 2015 10:17 pm

There are some interesting canal proposals that will probably come to nothing.

Chuck Hill
September 27, 2015 10:26 pm

Of course Iran is doing their best to ensure they have control or at least influence in Yemen

September 27, 2015 10:36 pm

This “They estimate the canal will cost $80 Billion” translates to the same amount of £££ as the 10-yr UK plan for T26s and subs, but
1. probably would have more geopolitical impact, and
2. KSA can afford it more easily

What is forgotten most of the time that the nation that would be hurt most by no oil passing through Hormuz is China, and China has considerable influence in Tehran. Therefore, in the end the planned insurance premium can be better spent on dealing with other types of threats in the region.

September 28, 2015 2:03 am

Would the canal be a sea level one or have locks? How would they get over the “700 m above sea level obstacles?”

September 28, 2015 3:44 am

Now we’re going into strategy.

This is as wild as the canal across the Kra Isthmus to bypass the Straits of Malacca.

Could happen, but question is when?

September 28, 2015 4:09 am


When global warming gets so bad that the waters flood over the countries.

That is one bloody long canal.

For the Malacca one, potentially worrying, practically laughable. The amount of ships you can squeeze through a canal is a minute fraction of what goes through the Straits on a daily basis. From wiki (take it for what it is worth) the Suez handled 17,225 ships in 2012. The Port of Singapore handles ~140,000. It is almost 1 magnitude higher. Same for the Thailand-China oil pipeline. I was worried about it before, but after I checked the figures, the proposed oil pipeline pumps in a year what shipping carries through in a single day.

Sure, taking a 10% hit on income is painful, but the 9 in 10 chance of not being one of the ships to get through the canal would mean that most will simply not bother and come the normal way anyhow.
The scale is massively different.

September 28, 2015 5:37 am

Obs, RE “Same for the Thailand-China oil pipeline. I was worried about it before, but after I checked the figures, the proposed oil pipeline pumps in a year what shipping carries through in a single day.”

Have you checked how the Burma-China pipeline is coming? They are building a railway, too. The WW2 road was so challenging both for capacity and for maintenance that air had to become more important (hardly an option at peace time).
– all of this just reinforces my point earlier above that China will use its influence to keep the Hormuz from becoming a real flash point (and to be able to do that it is continually working with Tehran to increase levers it would have available… undoing the sanctions is actually bad news for that strategy).

September 28, 2015 6:12 am

Never going to happen, pointless discussion.

September 28, 2015 6:43 am

Wiki calls it 12 million tons of crude per year. Reuters reports that China imports 26.49 million tons of crude *per day*! That was what I meant when I said that pipeline is laughably small. It can only ship in a year what would be used up in less than half a day. Hardly efficient for “just in time” logistics.

As for their railway… I think their definition of railway is a bit different from yours. Eastern countries don’t have the massive rail networks that the West has, it just didn’t catch on to that extent. A lot of that is due to the terrain. Bloody billy goat/jungle country most of it. The cash needed to get and maintain something like the West’s rail networks simply wasn’t there. Think of how much blood, pain and sweat was needed just to get the Death Railway up even working PoWs to the death in WWII.

September 28, 2015 9:00 am


I laugh at the Kra canal as well but anything will be tried by anyone.

I not a climate change expert definitely not in the Middle East. But both projects may be tried for the believe that it will bypass dangers to ships–piracy, state action etc.

September 28, 2015 9:07 am


I don’t think they will be tried for one reason. $$$.

Thailand proposed it in the 80s. 30 years on, nothing done. It was a stupid idea, same as this new Gulf Canal. Even the Suez was built by connecting to existing lakes. I don’t see many lakes along this new path.

Many proposals are proposed. Many are shot down.

September 28, 2015 9:14 am

Useful canals like suez and Panama can barley make a return in the current market with ultra large and cheap carriers. Any other major canal is just laughable. Pipelines across Saudi into Red Sea make more sense for a fraction of the cost.

September 28, 2015 10:35 am

This canal is pretty;

perhaps the Arabians wanna take some digging lessons in Norway first..