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El mundo de la logística innovadora

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Interoceanic Passages

1. Global Maritime Routes and Chokepoints

Maritime routes are a few kilometers wide corridors that connect economic regions and cross land transportation gaps. They form a continuum. Transoceanic maritime corridors depend on mandatory points of passage, which are nearly always key locations, physical limitations like coasts, winds, marine currents, depth, reefs, or ice, and political boundaries where sovereignty may restrict movement. Interoceanic canals are constructed to increase the interconnection of maritime networks whenever possible.

Passages, capes, and straits are defined as geographical areas through which international shipping routes must transit. These routes are typically found connecting important marketplaces with active commercial trade systems, such as Western Europe, North America, and East Asia. The architecture of the trades of semi-finished and finished goods highlights the significance of these sizable markets. Major routes also involve the transport of raw commodities, including petroleum, grains, minerals, and food items. Since bulks are the most trafficked commodities, maritime routes for bulks are influenced by the location of strategic mineral and oil resources.

Chokepoints (or bottlenecks) are a term used to describe the most crucial strategic marine routes because they:

  • Capacity limitations. Chokepoints commonly have shallow, constricting depths, which hinder navigation and place restrictions on ship capacity. In reality, appointment and price systems must be used to control capacity for interoceanic canals like the Panama and Suez.

  • Potential for closure or interruption. Any of these routes may be significantly impacted if trade flows were to be disrupted. Numerous chokepoints are located close to politically unsteady nations, raising the possibility that access to and usage of them could be compromised, for example through piracy. Only in times of conflict have there been closures, where one side prohibited the other from reaching and using the chokepoint (e.g. Gibraltar and Suez during World War II). In the current global economy, the closure of a maritime chokepoint would have significant economic ramifications due to the disruption of trade flows and even some supply chains (e.g. oil). Even if the benefits of utilizing military naval capabilities to safeguard sea routes are difficult to prove, these possible dangers and repercussions are frequently cited as justification.

Global trade patterns can be significantly impacted by changes to the technical and operational aspects of interoceanic canals and passageways. The four most significant interoceanic passes in the globe are the Strait of Hormuz, the Strait of Malacca, the Suez Canal, and the Strait of Panama. This is due in part to the chokepoints they cause in the flow of global freight as well as the fact that they give people access to resources and commercial activity more effectively. Due to the reliance of the global commerce system on their utilization, maintaining their availability for maritime trade globally is difficult. However, by continuing to establish rings of circulation made up of land and maritime corridors, particularly in the northern hemisphere, they have altered world trade.

"Dry canals" have also been built or are being considered in addition to interoceanic canals. They are referred to as "dry canals" because they serve the same purpose as "regular canals," which implies that they are relatively brief overland infrastructures of pipelines, roads, and rails that connect two ports where goods is transshipped. In contrast, a canal like the Panama Canal, which has road, rail, and pipeline complementarity to the canal's traffic, has replaced other dry canals that were once used as portage routes because they were unable to compete. The load break at both ends of dry canals, which increases costs and delays and limits economies of scale on the overland route, is their biggest drawback. Nevertheless, they offer possibilities for routes that may encourage domestic imports and exports as well as the growth of logistical activities. Passages, which are only transit places, have significantly less of an impact on regional growth.

2. The Suez Canal

The Suez Canal is an artificial waterway that spans the Isthmus of Suez in northeastern Egypt and connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Gulf of Suez, an arm of the Red Sea. It is approximately 190 kilometers long. The Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Suez have about the same water level, making the Suez Canal the longest canal in the world without locks. It serves as a detour for ships traveling between ports in Europe, America, and ports in southern Asia, eastern Africa, and Oceania. The maritime route from Europe to the Indian and Pacific oceans must round the Cape of Good Hope at the southernmost tip of the African continent due to obvious geographic considerations. Although there are alternatives to the Suez Canal, they either require extremely extensive detours (such as the Cape Route) or have a very small capacity (Eurasian landbridge). For instance, commerce between Europe and Asia may take an extra week if the Cape Route was used instead of the Suez Canal.

Around the 13th century BC, the first canal connecting the Red Sea and the delta of the Nile River was discovered. Its goal was to increase trade, which by 100 AD had grown significantly between the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The canal was ignored for the following 1,000 years, yet it underwent several modifications under Egyptian and Roman emperors. The 8th century AD saw the end of restoration efforts as the Mediterranean commerce declined and the Roman Empire fell. It was determined that transshipping the commodities across the Isthmus and to the Nile would be more profitable than paying for the upkeep of a canal. This scenario persisted until the nineteenth century, when significant maritime interests recognized the necessity to once again establish a connection between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

Ferdinand de Lesseps served as the project's driving force, and the Suez Canal's construction took place between 1859 and 1869 at a cost of roughly $100 million. New age of European dominance in Pacific Asia began with the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. By avoiding the circum-African route, 6,500 kilometers were saved on the trip from Asia to Europe. The Suez Canal Company's shares were purchased by Great Britain in 1874, making it the sole owner. The canal was to be accessible to ships from all nations in both peace and conflict, under the 1888 Convention of Constantinople. However, Great Britain asserted that it needed to keep control of the region to protect its colonial interests and maritime dominance (namely, South Asia). It was granted the authority to keep military forces near the Suez Canal in 1936, and this proved strategically significant during World War II as it protected the Allies' supply routes from Asia to Europe.

With the end of colonialism and the rise of Middle Eastern nationalism in the second half of the 20th century, the area experienced fresh geopolitical instability. An agreement that replaced the 1936 pact and called for the gradual removal of all British forces from the area was signed by Egypt and Great Britain in 1954. By the time Egypt nationalized the canal in June 1956, all British troops had left. Israel experienced problems as a result, as Israeli ships were not allowed to pass through the canal. Since France and Britain, the former owners of the canal, declined to contribute to the financing of the Aswan High Dam project as first promised, they were also subject to this threat. In 1956, Israel, France, and Britain invaded Egypt as a result. When Egypt retaliated, it essentially blocked the canal between 1956 and 1957 by sinking ships in it. Then, a decision was made on the canal's use.

However, as tensions between Israel and the surrounding Arab countries grew in the 1960s, geopolitical issues persisted. The Suez Canal was shut down from 1967 to 1975 as a result of the Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt and Israel's subsequent invasion of the Sinai Peninsula. Several ships were left trapped in the canal as a result of the closure's suddenness and unexpectedness. During the Yom Kippur War of 1973, hostilities resumed along the canal's cease-fire line. The Suez Canal closure severely disrupted global trade and encouraged the construction of ever-larger tankers to travel the lengthy circum-Africa route. In 1975, the canal was ultimately reopened after Egypt permitted Israel to utilize it. Between 1976 and 1980, significant advancements were made, including the expansion of the canal to handle very large crude carriers (VLCC) that serve the petroleum trade between Europe and the Middle East and weigh approximately 200,000 tons. When fully laden, ultra-large crude carriers (ULCC; tankers of more than 300,000 tons) cannot pass through the canal because of its present capacity of 240,000 tons. It is standard procedure to unload some Mediterranean-bound ships and use the Sumed pipeline to move the excess cargo.

The canal's depth increased with additional widening and deepening operations, reaching 23.5 meters in 2008 as opposed to 22.5 meters in 2001. A major enlargement project that raised the capacity to around 100 transits per day was completed in 2014. August 2015 saw the opening of the New Suez Canal, which cost over $8 billion and increased the depth to 24 meters (78 feet). This extension added a new 35 km segment that allowed ships to pass through the canal simultaneously in both directions. Because of its identical draft restrictions to those of the Strait of Malacca, the widened Suez Canal contributes to the improvement of marine shipping continuity on Asia-European trades. The canal can accommodate up to 25,000 ships annually, or 78 ships on average per day, but in 2019 it handled about 18,800 ships, or 55 ships on average per day, or roughly 15% of the world's marine traffic. Parallel to the canal is a rail line as well.

The canal could only support unidirectional traffic prior to its extension in 2015, with crossings arranged into convoys of roughly 10 to 15 ships. Two southbound and one northbound convoys per day with an average travel time of 17 hours were planned. Due to the 2015 enlargement, which made a longer part of the canal bi-directional, two concurrent convoys per day were planned. Missing a convoy can cause further delays to the point where, occasionally, maritime shipping corporations (especially for containers) will forego a port call to ensure timely arrival at the Suez Canal to be a part of a daily convoy. Risks come with larger ships transiting the canal, as demonstrated by the 2021 grounding of a 20,000 TEU containership that delayed traffic for six days.

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) announced plans to enlarge and deepen the Canal in the middle of 2021. The Great Bitter Lake will be connected to the city of Suez, where the canal meets the Red Sea, through an 18.6-mile section that will be enlarged and deepened. The plan also calls for building an extra 10-kilometer length of lanes that connects to the 2015 extension. In 2023, the expansion is anticipated to be finished.

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) determines the transit rates, which are calculated to keep shippers interested in paying the canal transit costs. After tourism and remittances from expatriate workers, Egypt's canal fees accounted for USD 5.3 billion of its total revenue in the fiscal year 2014, placing it as the third-largest source of income in the nation. Container ships make up somewhat more of the Canal's net tonnage and income and just under half of its traffic. The average canal transit fee (at 90% vessel utilization) breaks down to 56 USD per TEU for the largest container ships, or 102 USD per TEU for a vessel carrying 1,000 TEU. About 75% of the traffic that Suez handles is from the Far East to Europe. Services to the East Coast of North America from Asia and transit through the Suez Canal have grown in recent years and now make up more than 15% of the traffic it handles. The canal region has expanded into a significant hub for transshipment.

3. The Panama Canal

From Cristobal on Limon Bay, an arm of the Caribbean Sea, to Balboa on the Gulf of Panama, the Panama Canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific seas through an 82-kilometer span across the Isthmus of Panama. It now has two lock systems that can be utilized simultaneously since its expansion in 2016. The original locks, which were finished in 1914, can accommodate ships up to 294 meters in length, 12.2 meters in width, and 40 feet in draft (965 feet). Ships with a draft of 15.2 meters (50 feet), a breadth of 49 meters (160 feet), and a length of 366 meters may navigate the expanded locks, which were finished in 2016. (1200 feet).

Because the Panama Canal eliminates a protracted detour around South America and improves global commercial connections, its construction and extension rate among the greatest engineering feats of the 20th century. Because it allows for quicker connections between the East and West coasts, cutting the distance traveled by ship by nearly 13,000 km (from 21,000 km to 8,000 km), the Panama Canal is of particular strategic importance to the United States.

The Gatun Locks, which opened in 1914, and the Agua Clara Locks, which opened in 2016, provide access to the Atlantic Ocean, the Culebra Cut, or Gaillard, which spans the continental divide, and the Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks, which opened in 1914, as well as the Cocoli Locks (also part of the 2016 expansion), which provide access to the Pacific Ocean. About 5% of the world's maritime traffic and 12% of American foreign maritime trade pass via the canal. In addition, the United States is the origin or destination of about 70% of the traffic through the Panama Canal.

Since the early 16th century, when Europeans first began exploring Central America, there has been interest in creating a quick route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific. The Panama region was surveyed by the Spanish in 1534 with the intention of building a canal, but the project was abandoned due to severe technical difficulties. Instead, paths through the isthmus were initially traveled via overland portages, but in 1855 the Panama Railway was finished, creating a speedier and more efficient link. When gold was found in California in 1848, it sparked significant population movements to the west, and the United States developed an interest in building a canal. Additionally, a potential route through Nicaragua was examined. However, a treaty to build a canal was signed between Columbia (at the time the owner of the Province of Panama) and the French Geographical Society of Paris in 1878. Ferdinand de Lesseps, the main proponent of the Suez Canal's development in 1869, led the French Canal Company (Compagnie Universelle du Canal Interocéanique), which undertook construction from 1879 to 1899 after raising 1 billion francs from 800,000 individual investors. However, the grandiose project was largely unsuccessful due to financial issues, tropical diseases (25,000 workers are estimated to have died), and the technical challenges of creating a sea-level canal where it was not feasible to do so. The company's subsequent financial collapse was reportedly the biggest of the 19th century.

A canal was encouraged to be built as a result of the lengthy repositioning of American ships between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans during the Spanish-American War of 1898. The Panama Canal project wouldn't actually be completed until the 20th century. The United States was not successful in obtaining a concession for a canal in Panama as a province of Colombia. But in 1903, the United States-backed Panamanian revolution led to the country's independence. The Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty was signed in the same year between the United States and the fledgling nation of Panama. With this contract, the United States obtained a perpetual lease on a 16 km (10 km) zone for the canal, over which it had full control, as well as guaranteed Panama's independence. Panama received a $10 million monetary reward as well as an annual reward that is inflation-indexed in return.

American engineers spent $387 million building the Panama Canal between 1904 and 1914 (including $10 million in compensation to Panama and $40 million to acquire the earlier project from the French Canal Company). President Theodore Roosevelt, who is primarily responsible for the accomplishment, gave the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers control over the canal's construction in 1906. The Soo Locks, which connected Lake Huron and Lake Superior and were at the time the busiest locks in the world, served as the design model for Panama's locks. The Gatun Dam's construction made it possible to create an artificial lake (Lake Gatun), which decreased the need for excavation (higher water levels) and offered a sizable water supply reservoir for the locks. About 5,600 people lost their lives working on the project, mostly from tropical diseases, out of a total workforce of 70,000. The project, which was finished in 1914, required the removal of 143 million cubic meters of soil and the sanitization of the entire canal basin, which was infested with insects that carried diseases including malaria and yellow fever.

More than 1.14 million ships have passed through the canal since it was finished in 1914, transporting 13.94 billion tons of cargo (as of 2020). The Panamax standard, which equates to 65,000 deadweight tons, a draft of 12 meters, and a capacity of around 4,500 TEUs depending on the load configuration, is synonymous with it in terms of marine transit (about 5,200 TEU if most of the containers are empty). Averaging 35 ships per day, the canal is used by about 14,000 ships annually. The transit time for the Panama Canal is primarily determined by two factors. The average amount of time it takes a ship to travel through the canal from its entry point in Balboa to its departure in Colon is known as the canal transit time (CTT) (or vice-versa). The time spent in the Panama Canal's waters (PCWT) comprises both the transit and the waiting time for a transit slot to open up. However, the canal can accommodate 50 ships per day at its maximum capacity. If the route has been reserved ahead of time, using the canal requires an average trip duration of roughly 16.5 hours. Due to the extra time required to wait for a transit slot when there are no bookings, the trip takes an average of 35 hours. The majority of the transported cargo is made up of containers, grains, and petroleum.

The Panama Canal Treaty of 1977 gave the State of Panama administrative responsibility of the canal, which the United States maintained until 1979. (also called the Carter-Torrijos Treaty). Under the control of the Panama Canal Authority, the canal was returned to Panama in December 1999. The authority is in charge of the facility's operation and upkeep and produces revenue by charging tolls to all ships that pass through the canal. The average toll is roughly $45,000, and a loaded ship pays about $2.57 per net ton. As of 2011, the cost for container ships was $74 per TEU of capacity for laden containers and $65.60 for ships with empty containers. A total of $1.32 billion in tolls were collected in 2008, with container ships accounting for 54% of the total.

The concessioning of its port terminal facilities was the first step in the privatization strategy the Panama Canal Authority took. Manzanillo International Terminals (MIT), which started operations in 1995, was the first private project. A 25-year concession for the management of port terminals on both the Atlantic (Port of Cristobal) and Pacific (Port of Balboa) sides of the canal was granted to Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH) in 1999. In order to manage the increasing containerized traffic, the rail line between the Atlantic and Pacific sides was reopened in 2002 under a private concession. Through doublestack services, the Panama Canal Railway Company (a concession to KCS and Mi-Jack Products) provides transshipment activities between the Pacific and Atlantic sides, enabling container repositioning without passing through the canal. The trans-Panama pipeline, which started operations in 2003, uses the same logic to transport oil, however the extra capacity it provides is only a few thousand barrels per day (Mb/d).

Since the 1990s, there has been an ongoing increase in global trade, which has increased strain on the Panama Canal to manage an increasing number of ships in a timely and predictable manner. This sparked worries that by the second decade of the twenty-first century, the current canal would be at capacity. The layout of many shipping companies' routes was altered as a result of these capacity restrictions. This became more and more clear when a significant percentage of the world's containership fleet grew to sizes that exceeded the Panama Canal's carrying capacity, becoming known as "post-Panamax" containerships. They provide major operational cost advantages through economies of scale that the old canal could not take use of. The use of these vessels on the Pacific Asia-Suez Canal-Mediterranean routes is growing, and the construction of the North American rail landbridge has increased competition for the Suez Canal as a hub for international maritime transport. As a result, there are a variety of alternatives to the commercial routes that use the Panama Canal, with the North American landbridges being the most notable. The establishment of "all-water routes" directly connecting Pacific Asia and the American East Coast was spurred by worries about the dependability of the landbridge connection, particularly in light of the increasing China-United States commercial relationship.

The Panamanian government decided to enlarge the Panama Canal in 2006. Building a new set of locks on the canal's Atlantic and Pacific sides, which could accommodate ships up to 12,500 TEU depending on their load arrangement, was part of the 5.4 billion US dollar expansion project. Additionally necessary were the enlargement of many stretches of the existing canal as well as the dredging of access canals. As a result, the canal may now be used by Aframax and Suezmax ships, opening up new potential for container shipping services like the resurgence of round-the-world services. In essence, a new type of containership was developed to complement the Panamax ship category. The name of it was New-Panamax (or NeoPanamax; NPX). Since larger containerships were anticipated to call, the news of the expansion also led to an overhaul of port and related infrastructures along the east coast of North America.

A two-tier service, one for very large ships and the other for Panamax, or smaller ships, is created by the new locks, which work in conjunction with the current lock systems. As a result, the existing capacity of roughly 45 ships per day in the existing locks can be increased by about 12 ships per day in the new lock system. The new locks are unidirectional as opposed to the previous double locks, which limits the additional capacity. After numerous delays because the expansion was previously anticipated to be finished in 2014, the additional infrastructures finally went online in July 2016.

Despite being over a century old, the Panama Canal continues to be a significant commercial barrier. The Panama Canal extension took place in a period of significant commercial change, including a review of sourcing tactics and the potential construction of a rival canal in Nicaragua. In addition, the newest containerships (such those in the Triple E class) have grown to capacities that exceed the capacity of the extended locks. The widened Panama Canal will continue to accommodate 95% of the world's containership capacity for the foreseeable future. Panama is transitioning from being a transit hub to becoming a logistics hub and a trading hub for the Americas as a global intermediary location.

4. The Strait of Malacca

Due to the fact that the Strait of Malacca facilitates the majority of the maritime traffic between Europe and Pacific Asia, which involves 50,000 ships annually, it is one of the most significant strategic passes in the world. In 2016, the strait handled over 16 Mbd, or about 30% of all global trade, and 80% of petroleum imports into Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. It serves as the primary route between the Pacific and Indian seas, with Indonesia's Strait of Sunda serving as the next-closest alternate. It has a length of roughly 800 km, a width of 50 to 320 km, and a minimum channel depth of 23 meters. At its narrowest point, it measures 2.5 km (about 70 feet). It is the world's longest strait used for international navigation, and it can be crossed in roughly 20 hours.

The Strait was once a crucial crossing point between the Chinese and Indian empires, and at various times, Malaysian and Javanese kingdoms held control of it. Beginning in the 14th century, Arab traders founded several fortified trading cities in the area, with Malacca becoming as Southeast Asia's most significant commercial hub. Once more, as the era of European expansion began in the 16th century, control of the trade route changed. Malacca's Portuguese conquest in 1511 signaled the start of European rule over the Strait. With Singapore serving as the primary harbor and other significant cities like Malacca and Penang constituting the Strait Settlements, England seized control of the passage in 1867. This rule persisted up to the Second World War and Malaysia's independence in 1957. The significance of the route increased along with the transpacific trade following World War II. Singapore, one of the most significant ports in the world and a significant center for oil refining, is situated near the southern end of the Strait of Malacca.

Since it is only just deep enough to allow ships over 300,000 deadweight tons, the Strait of Malacca faces a number of difficulties. Since the Strait is shared by Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, it is challenging to come to an agreement on how to divide the costs of dredging and how to charge for its use. Piracy and political unrest are two more significant threats to the security of marine traffic, particularly on the Indonesian side where the province of Aceh has seen political unrest.

Another important maritime route, the Strait of Malacca leads to the South China Sea, which is also a contentious area because to the presence of oil and natural gas resources. China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines are among the countries that have staked partial claims to the Spratly and Paracel island groups. The area has 2.5 Mb/d of oil output and proved oil reserves estimated at 7.0 Bb. Large amounts of oil, liquefied natural gas, and other raw commodities (coal, iron ore) are transiting into East Asia as a result of the region's significant economic expansion. Every year, around 25% of the world's commercial fleet passes through the area, demonstrating how crucial the South China Sea is as a continuation of the Malacca chokepoint. The considerable degree of reliance China has on these channels and its lack of desire in seeing them compromised, however, must be taken into account when assessing the possibility for trade route interruptions in the South China Sea. For instance, 50% of China's foreign trade and 80% of its oil imports pass via the Strait of Malacca, demonstrating that China is the stakeholder most dependent on safe and reliable strait traffic.

As early as the 17th century, the Kra Isthmus in Thailand was contemplated as a shortcut between the Gulf of Thailand (Pacific Ocean) and the Andaman Sea (Indian Ocean). The Kra Canal project proposes to construct a 102 km long canal along the Kra Isthmus's narrowest section. The prospective canal might cut shipping distance by 1,200 km, or around two to three shipping days in one direction, by eliminating a detour across the Strait of Malacca (such figures do not take account of canal transit times). Even though the project will provide a shortcut, this advantage will be minimal, especially for long-distance shipping routes. Its profitability is additionally compromised by Singapore's and Tanjung Pelepas' significance as key transshipment hubs connecting trade routes between Asia, Oceania, and Europe. Shipping lines using the canal must weigh the advantages of faster passage times against the cost of the tolls. The canal would primarily help Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, and Vietnam because their maritime trade would have more pronounced time and cost savings while shipment. Due to the fact that it will provide it with another option besides accessing the Strait of Malacca, China is pursuing this project for both strategic and commercial reasons.

5. The Strait of Hormuz

The Persian Gulf oil fields, which are located in a marine dead end, the Gulf of Oman, and the Indian Ocean are strategically connected by the Strait of Hormuz. It ranges in breadth from 48 to 80 km, but only two channels, each 3 km wide and only utilized for vehicles traveling in one way, can be used for navigation (inbound or outbound). Thus, movement into and out of the Persian Gulf is severely restricted, particularly due to the substantial volume of tanker and containership traffic that makes it challenging to navigate through the congested channels. Iran and the United Arab Emirates are also vying for control of islands that are vital to the strait. The strait is deep enough to fit all tanker classes that are currently in use.

The strait's security has frequently been jeopardized, and its commercial use has come under scrutiny. The Iran-Iraq War, which lasted from 1980 to 1988, featured a "Tanker War" between Iran and Iraq between the years of 1984 and 1987. In this conflict, both sides started shooting at neutral and hostile tankers that were headed for their respective ports. The United States had to intervene to safeguard the oil transport lanes after the Persian Gulf's shipping fell by 25%. The Strait of Hormuz is the route taken by about 85% of all petroleum exported from the Persian Gulf on its way to Asian markets. Its significance for the flow of oil around the world cannot be emphasized. For instance, the strait is used for 75% of all oil imports into Japan. Thus, if the daily flow of 17 million barrels of oil through Hormuz is disrupted, there aren't many alternatives to oil exports.

Although the extraction and distribution of oil has historically been the primary focus of the Persian Gulf, the rise of container shipping has significantly increased the region's financial significance. For instance, Dubai rated as the 10th largest container port in the world in 2018 with 15 million TEU in trade, and it is only accessible via the Strait of Hormuz. It has developed into a significant transshipment hub connecting commercial lines in East Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Therefore, a compromised flow across the Strait of Hormuz would hinder both commercial commerce along the Europe/Asia routes and worldwide oil trade.

6. Other Important Passages

The Suez Canal, a vital conduit between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, is only accessible through the Strait of Bab el-Mandab. Its breadth ranges from 48 to 80 km, however there are only two 3 km wide channels for inbound and outbound traffic. Navigation in the congested tanker traffic along the tiny canals is challenging. Serious repercussions would result from closing this strait, forcing a detour around the Cape of Good Hope and necessitating more tanker room. Bab el-Mandab, like the Strait of Malacca, is a vital connection in the commerce route between Europe and Asia.

The 115 mile Oresund Strait, a nautical dead end linking the North Sea and the Baltic, is a gateway between Denmark and Sweden. It makes it possible for Germany, Poland, the Baltic States, and Russia to participate in international maritime shipping. The strait serves as a transit route for the majority of Russian container commerce.

Between the Atlantic and Mediterranean oceans, on a peninsula, is the Strait of Gibraltar, which serves as a vital passageway. The strait measures 64 km in length and 13 to 39 km in width. Since been taken over by Britain from Spain in 1704 and formally ceded by the Treaty of Utrecht (1713). Gibraltar prevented the Italian and German fleets in the Mediterranean, which served as a significant strategic military stronghold, from accessing the Atlantic during the Second World War. Along the primary Europe-Mediterranean-Asia maritime routes, the Strait has developed into a significant transshipment hub. More recently, the expansion of trade utilizing the Suez Canal to reach the East Coast of North America has created more options for transshipment along the strait.

The Strait of Bosporus, which connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, is 30 km long and 1 km wide at its narrowest point. Two wars—the Crimean War (1854) and the Battle of the Dardanelles—were fought over its access (Gallipoli, 1915). After the Montreux Convention of 1936, which acknowledged Turkey's possession of the Bosporus but allowed any commercial vessel free passage without inspection during peacetime, the channel was strengthened by Turkey. Bosporus is the only passageway connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Black Sea, along with the Dardanelles. The Bosporus is now seen as a passageway of significant geopolitical significance, especially in light of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. With the help of the Strait of Bosporus, Ukraine has emerged as a significant exporter of iron ore and cereals (sunflower, corn, and wheat). Additionally, the massive oil deposits of the Caspian Sea must go across the Black Sea and Bosporus in order to reach distant markets, namely those in the Mediterranean. Although pipelines provide a substitute, using sea transportation is more advantageous due to the cost differences. Compared to delivering oil by tankers over the Black Sea, which costs 20 cents per barrel, moving oil along the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline costs between $1 and $2 per barrel.

Each year, the passage transits about 50,000 ships, including 5,500 tankers, and is almost at capacity. The Bosporus is one of the trickiest routes to travel through because of its sinuosity, especially for larger ships. With the development of oil reserves in the Caspian Sea, oil transits across the Bosporus have increased significantly in recent years. In 2016, about 2.4 Mb/d of oil passed through the passage. Therefore, the expansion of oil traffic via the Bosporus is extremely hazardous, especially given the possibility of crashes and oil spills in Istanbul. The Turkish government outlawed the usage of the crossing by massive tankers at night in 2002.

Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese navigator, successfully navigated the Strait of Magellan in 1520, bridging mainland South America and Tierra del Fuego. It measures 4 to 24 km in breadth and 530 km in length. Compared to Cape Horn and the Drake Passage, which is a body of water connecting South America and Antarctica, it offers a more secure route. For more than a century, it was initially kept a secret in order to maintain the dominance of Portugal and Spain in the trade of spices and silk from Asia. This passage lost the majority of its strategic significance with the establishment of the Panama Canal in 1916, followed by the building of the North American transcontinental bridge in the 1980s. This marginalization was exacerbated by the lack of economic activity at the southernmost tip of South America.

There are no significant technical restrictions for maritime commerce near the Cape of Good Hope, which is the southernmost point of Africa and the boundary between the Atlantic and Indian seas. The west coast of Africa was the primary focus of the early phases of European naval expansion in the fifteenth century. The cape was given the name Good Hope after it was discovered by the Portuguese in 1488 because it provided a nautical route to India and Asia, providing travelers with the prospect of wealth. Vasco de Gama was the first European to enter India by sea in 1497 after circumnavigating the cape. When steamship technology was created in the 19th century, the Cape of Good Hope then developed into a significant point of transit in commerce networks between Europe and Asia, complete with a coaling station.

The Suez Canal's opening in 1869 diminished the Cape Route's strategic significance, especially after it was widened in the 1970s, but the route is still an essential one. The expansion of commercial ties between East, South, and Southeast Asia and Latin America has encouraged the usage of the Cape Route and South Africa as a transshipment hub. This emphasizes how the Cape Route is no longer primarily used for European trade.

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