Kanal Istanbul : a project for the Great Istanbul

Istanbul strait

Surrounded by Bulgaria, Georgia, Roumania, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey, Black Sea is a strategic area in suply of hydrocarbon for western Europe.

The sea route heading to the Mediterranean sea makes tankers and supertankers cruising through the Bosphorus strait. Bottleneck with strong current, navigation is highly dangerous.

Built-up on each bank of the strait, the turkish metropolis sees every year approximately 50 000 tankers and supertankers cruising through (source : usinenouvelle.com). Moreover, hundreds of thousands Turkishs commute daily between Anatolia and Europe using cruising shuttles. That massive shipping traffic makes the strait one of the most frequented in the world.

That shipping fact comes with security issues for Istanbul and its population. Many main shipping accidents have already occured in the past.

In march 1994, a Cypriot oil tanker collided with a ship and lost its cargo ending with the death of the 13 sailors. More recently, in January 2012, the Kayan I tanker, had to be towed away after a collision with the M/V Adriablue because of strong winds.

Hydrocarbon needs, getting more and more essential in global economy, will even make shipping bigger in the Bosphorus strait.

Oil slick risk is real and could strongly damage an ecosystem already fragile. Consequences on population’s life conditions would be then irreversible.

The turkish first minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, spoke out, in april 2011,  « a crazy project » aiming at digging a canal parallel to the strait. The purpose was to relieve shipping traffic on the Bosphorus and let the 13,5 million of inhabitants truly take advantage of their strait.  Pending since then, a decision of the High Planning Council in favor of the canal was released by the Vice-Prime Minister Ali Babacan in April 2013.


Many ways have been though for the « Kanal Istanbul ». It would be between 28 and 31 miles long (45 and 50 km), 82 feet deep (25 meters) and 164 yards wide (150 meters).

Right now it is hardly possible to estimate work construction costs. Some experts have said between 20 and 40 billion dollars (source : le petitjournal.com). Whereas, they could make government back off, the Canal might be a profitable amenity.

Since the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits, agreed in 1936, the free passage of civilian vessels in peacetime through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits has been guaranteed. Unlike the straits, toll fees will be applied for the « Kanal Istanbul » use, bringing in large financial resources for the turkish government.

Launching such an ambitious project, the turksih State revealed its will to set up durably Istanbul among the world metropolitan elite. That Canal will be used as a rooted point in the « Great Istanbul » conceptualisation. Following the urban dynamics of the XXIth , the purpose is to provide the inhabitants the best life conditions as possible.

All along the Canal, new building lands will see the light of day. Two new cities, industrial and commercial areas have already been planned.

Those futur urban centers will support and boost the economic development of the megalopolis and inhance its international attractiveness.

« Kanal Istanbul » isnot the only large-sized project that the turkish government wants to implement. Other planning programs, in process and under study, will lead to a quick and spectacular urban change of the turkish megalopolis.

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