(Bloomberg) --

More ships traversed the Suez Canal in 2021 than ever before despite its temporary blocking by a 400-meter-long vessel and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Volumes are expected to continue to rise this year and again after a project to expand the waterway is completed, said the Suez Canal Authority.

The Suez Canal generated $6.3 billion in fees from 20,694 ships passing through in 2021, said SCA’s chairman and managing director Osama Rabie in an interview in Dubai on Sunday. Volumes will be higher in 2022, despite a 6% increase in tolling charges from February, because ship-makers are building more vessels, he said.

Liquefied natural gas carriers are exempt from the hike. Vessels using fuels that meet United Nations emissions standards may also be eligible for a discount, although these plans have not been finalized, Rabie said. 

A project to widen and deepen the Suez Canal is underway and will be completed by July 2023, which will allow as much as 28% more vessels to pass through the canal, he said. 

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