€6bn Morocco-Spain undersea tunnel resurfaces

Morocco’s National Company for the Studies of the Strait of Gibraltar (SNED) is revisiting plans for a marine tunnel project, connecting Morocco and Spain, according to a report from SNRTnews.

Map shows shortest distance across Strait of Gibraltar

If the project goes ahead, the aim will be for it to be completed ahead of 2030, when Spain, Portugal and Morocco will jointly host the Fifa World Cup of football.

The tunnel, first proposed in 1979, would deliver a high-speed railway link between Casablanca in Morocco and Madrid in Spain, which could reduce travel time between the two cities to just five-and-a-half hours.

Together with its Spanish counterpart, SECEGSA, the SNED is now said to be undertaking surveys to determine the appropriate technology for constructing the tunnel.

SNED said it and SECEGSA have undertaken a total of 44 oceanographic surveys, covering more than 10,000km of geophysical features using seismic reflection, plus more than 5,000km of side sonar surveys and 5,000 samples gathered from the seabed.

A number of wells have also been drilled in locations such as Bologna and Tarifa in Spain, as well as near Morocco’s Tangier.

Huge engineering challenges

One of the challenges for the project is that the shortest distance between the two continents – approximately 14km – is also the deepest route, with sea depths in some areas reaching up to 900m.

There are also seismic challenges associated with the Strait of Gibraltar, with heightened tectonic activity due to the convergence of the Eurasian and African plates and the Alboran sub-plate.

Organisations, including the European Commission, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, the Center for Transport Studies for the Western Mediterranean, the Arab Maghreb Union and the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) have all showed interest in the project, given its potential to benefit the international community.

SNED and SECEGSA are jointly responsible for overseeing the financing of the proposed tunnel project. While no official figure has been released for its construction, recent estimates put the total cost at around €6 billion.


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