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China to Deepen Xiazhimen Channel

After the number of 150,000-ton ships navigating the Xiazhimen channel to Southeast China’s Ningbo-Zhoushan Port increased from 80 in 2003 to more than 360 in 2006, government officials decided to deepen the channel.

The government is investing 500 million yuan to deepen the channel to 22.5 meters below mean low water. It will be available to accommodate 300,000-ton ships by June of 2008, and will be the deepest man-made channel in the country.

Ren Zhong, deputy director of Zhejiang Port and Shipping Administrative Bureau said that with the deep channel, vessels of more than 150,000 tons could enter the port directly and would no longer need to unload cargo or wait for the tide, reducing transportation costs and the risk of accidents.

Oil and ore shipping companies using the channel could save 100 million yuan every year with the deeper channel, said Ren.

As the world’s third largest port, Ningbo-Zhoushan plays an important role in the economically booming Yangtze valley and the river’s delta. More than 40 percent of China’s oil is transported or stored at the port.

Besides the Ningbo-Zhoushan Port, Tianjin, Qingdao and Zhanjiang also have plans to build 300,000-ton channels.

“By 2010, China will have three or four 300,000-ton channels,” said Yao Jinyuan, senior engineer with Shanghai Waterway Engineering Design and Consulting Co., Ltd., which participated in the Xiazhimen project.

With 19 deep-water berths and another six under construction, Xiazhimen would become the busiest of China’s deep-water channels, said Yao. Source: Xinhua

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