A giant tanker closed the Suez Canal for around 20 minutes late Wednesday night, raising concerns of a traffic disruption similar to that seen in early 2021, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said, confirming official press information about the event.
The Affinity V oil tanker ran aground and blocked the seaway for about 20 minutes, a source close to the Egyptian security services told AFP. A source close to the ADS had earlier told the Reuters news agency that the ship had now been freed, was sailing slowly with the help of tugs and the movement of ships was beginning to be restored.
The Canal is one of the busiest maritime trade routes in the world. It connects Europe with Asia and about 10% of the goods that are traded on a global scale by sea pass through it.
The tanker with a displacement of 64,000 tons was freed thanks to the intervention of “more than five” tugboats, ADS clarified.
According to specialist website Vessel Finder, the Singapore-flagged tanker is 250 meters long and 45 meters wide and is headed to the Red Sea port of Yanbu, Saudi Arabia.
The incident is the first of its kind since a container ship, the Ever Given, with a displacement of nearly 200,000 tons, blocked the Canal for several days when it ran aground on a bank in a sandstorm in March 2021. The operation to extricate it had lasted six days and had claimed the life of an ADS worker.
Yesterday’s incident took place in the same, southern part of the Canal.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi approved a plan in May to widen and deepen the southern section of the Canal. The projects are expected to be completed by 2023.
According to ADS data, Egypt had between $12 million and $15 million in lost revenue each closing day. Insurers estimated that the losses were several billion dollars a day.
In July, the Authority announced record revenue of $7 billion in the 2021-2022 fiscal year after raising fees for ship passage several times.