A giant tanker closed the Suez Canal for about twenty minutes late Wednesday night, raising concerns about the traffic disruption similar to that recorded in early 2021the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) announced, officially confirming press reports about the incident.
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 ADS had earlier told the Reuters news agency that the ship had now been freed, was sailing slowly with the help of tugboats 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 the specialized website Vessel Finder and as reported by international agencies and the Athens News Agency, the Singapore-flagged oil tanker is 250 meters long and 45 meters wide and is headed to the Red Sea port of Yanbu in 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 in May a plan to widen and deepen the southern part of Suez 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.