Maltese oil tanker breaks down in Egypt’s Suez Canal

The Suez Canal Authority is towing a ship that broke down in a single-lane section of the waterway.

The Suez Canal Authority is towing a ship that broke down in a single-lane section of the waterway. Photo: AP/Suez Canal Authority

A tanker transporting crude oil has broken down in a single-lane part of Egypt’s Suez Canal, disrupting traffic in the global waterway.

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

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

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

Admiral 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 tugboats were towing the tanker to a double-lane part at the 17-kilometre mark of the canal.

The Seavigour was built in 2016, and is 274 metres long and 48.63 metres 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 per cent 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 $US8 billion, the highest in its history.

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