Suez Canal traffic disrupted after oil tanker engine breaks down

Malta-registered Seavigour was heading to China from Russia and had to be towed for repairs

The Hong Kong-registered Xin Hai Tong 23 had to be freed by tugboats after its engines also broke down on May 25. Photo: Suez Canal Authority
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An oil tanker caused a temporary disruption of traffic in Egypt's Suez Canal on Sunday morning, after its engine broke down.

The canal is the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia and one of the Egyptian government's main sources of foreign currency.

Three tugboats were deployed to tow the Malta-registered Seavigour to a nearby port on the northern stretch of the waterway for repairs, Suez Canal Authority spokesman George Safwat said.

The tanker was travelling to China from Russia, and its breakdown is the second incident to affect traffic on the canal in the past two weeks.

On May 25, the Hong Kong-registered Xin Hai Tong 23, heading to Egypt from Saudi Arabia, had to be freed by tugboats after its engines also broke down.

Following Sunday's blockage, the canal authority played down fears about its ability to deal with blockages on the waterway, saying it had the funds and manpower to handle such incidents “with professionalism”.

The authority launched a major upgrade of the vital shipping route after a six-day blockage caused by the Panama-registered container ship Ever Given running aground in March 2021.

The disruption caused billions in financial losses for shipping companies.

The canal’s authority is seeking to deepen and widen stretches of the 193-kilometre waterway.

Updated: June 04, 2023, 11:36 AM