Oil tanker breaks down in Egypt's Suez Canal, disrupting traffic in the global waterway

Three tugboats deployed to tow away the Malta-flagged Seavigour and allow other vessels to transit the waterway, says the canal authority spokesperson


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A view of the a argo ship XIN HAI TONG 23 after successfully being refloated to the waiting area in the canal next to Ismailia, Egypt, on May 25, 2023.  — Reuters file
A view of the a argo ship XIN HAI TONG 23 after successfully being refloated to the waiting area in the canal next to Ismailia, Egypt, on May 25, 2023. — Reuters file

By AP

Published: Sun 4 Jun 2023, 12:28 PM

Last updated: Sun 4 Jun 2023, 12:29 PM

A tanker transporting curd oil broke down in a single-lane part of Egypt's Suez Canal on Sunday, disrupting traffic in the global waterway, Egyptian authorities said.

The Malta-flagged Seavigour suffered a mechanical malfunction at the 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) mark of the canal, said George Safwat, a spokesperson for Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority.

The canal authority deployed three tugboats to tow away the tanker and allow other vessels to transit the waterway, he said.

The tanker was part of the north convoy, which transits the canal from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, he said.

Adm. Ossama Rabei, head of the Suez Canal Authority, said the tanker broke down in a single-lane part of the waterway, disrupting the transit of eight other vessels that were behind it in the convoy.

In a phone interview with a local television station, he said that tugboats were towing the tanker to a double-lane part at the 17 kilometeres (10.5 miles) mark of the canal.

The Seavigour was built in 2016, and is 274 metres (899 feet) long and 48.63 metres (159 feet) wide, according to MarineTraffic, a vessel tracking service provider

Sunday’s incident was the latest case of a vessel reported stuck in the vital waterway. A flurry of ships ran aground or broke down in the Suez Canal over the past few years.

On May 25, a Hong Kong-flagged ship briefly blocked the canal. On March 5, a Liberia-flagged ship ran aground in the two-lane part of the waterway. Both vessels were refloated hours later.

In March 2021, the Panama-flagged Ever Given, a colossal container ship, crashed into a bank on a single-lane stretch of the canal, blocking the waterway for six days and disrupting global trade.

The canal, which opened in 1869, provides a crucial link for oil, natural gas and cargo. About 10% of world trade flows through the canal, a major source of foreign currency for the Egyptian government.

According to the Suez Canal Authority, last year, 23,851 vessels passed through the waterway, compared to 20,649 vessels in 2021. The revenue from the canal in 2022 reached $8 billion, the highest in its history.


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