The Suez Canal Authorities has awarded a contract to a consortium, named Challenge Coalition, for the expansion of the canal in Egypt.
The consortium consists of Netherlands-based Royal Boskalis Westminster, Van Oord, National Marine Dredging Company of UAE and Belgium-based Jan de Nul Group.
The contract is worth $1.5bn and each company in the consortium is entitled to an equal share of the amount.
The Challenge Coalition project will see a new canal being constructed parallel to the current waterway, as well as the expansion of the existing parts.
The parallel section will be around 50km-long to make way for ships to service two directions at the same time.
The widening and deepening works will take place in selected areas to a depth of 24km and a larger portion of the expansion procedure will take place with the help of 17 cutter suction dredgers.
Suez Canal Authority head lieutenant general Mohab Memish was quoted by Reuters as saying: "In order to complete this work within one year it was necessary to make use of huge dredging machines, international dredging machines, because the amount of wet dredging is very large."
The consortium will start work under the contract this year and the project is likely to complete in 2015.
According to estimates, the new canal will boost the waterway revenue up to $5bn by 2023 and Egypt will also develop an international industrial and logistics hub along with this project, according to the news agency.
Image: The majority of dredging activities for the canal expansion will be executed with 17 cutter suction dredgers.. Photo: courtesy of Boskalis.