Overall cargo shipments using the canal hit a record 740mn tons, 2% up on 2008’s previous high. But revenues, at $5.13bn, remain $250mn below 2008’s record and also down a touch on $5.22bn for 2011 (see table p9).

The canal is a key foreign currency earner for cash-strapped Egypt. Shipments were little affected by Egypt’s 2011 (and continuing) political turmoil but global economic recession post-2008, particularly in Europe, saw shipments and revenues fall. Almost 90% of volumes transiting the canal are either coming from or going to Europe (including the wider Mediterranean region). Container traffic accounts for around 55% of shipments on a tonnage basis with oil a further 20% – adding LNG gives a 2012 hydrocarbons total of 24%, a record. (CONTINUED - 1303 WORDS)