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

CAIRO (AP) — A tanker carrying curd oil broke down in Egypt’s Suez Canal on Sunday, disrupting traffic on the global waterway, a canal spokesman said.

The Maltese-flagged Seavigour suffered a mechanical malfunction at the 12-kilometre (7.5-mile) mark of the canal, said George Safwat, spokesman for the Egyptian Suez Canal Authority.

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

The tanker was part of the northern convoy, which transits through the channel from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, he said.

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

Sunday’s incident was the latest reported case of a vessel getting stuck in the vital waterway. A flurry of ships have run aground or broken down in the Suez Canal in recent years.

On May 25, a Hong Kong-flagged ship briefly blocked the channel. On March 5, a Liberian-flagged vessel ran aground in the two-lane portion of the waterway. Both vessels were refloated a few hours later.

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

The canal, which opened in 1869, is a crucial link for oil, natural gas and freight. Around 10% of world trade passes through the canal, a major source of foreign currency for the Egyptian government.

According to the Suez Canal Authority, 23,851 ships used the waterway last year, compared to 20,649 ships in 2021. The canal’s revenue in 2022 reached $8 billion, the highest in its history.

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