The Suez Canal in Egypt was operating normally on Wednesday, according to two shipping sources based in the country, after two tankers that collided earlier were separated.
The two tankers, the Singapore-flagged liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier BW Lesmes and the Cayman Islands-flagged oil products tanker Burri collided briefly in the canal, according to the ship tracking company MarineTraffic, which reported it early Wednesday morning, citing eyewitnesses.
The sources did not provide any additional information regarding the incident.
However, in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, Egypt’s AlQahera News cited Suez Canal Authority Chairman Osama Rabie as saying that a ship that had broken down in the navigation course was being towed.
According to ship tracking data on Refinitiv Eikon, at 5:00 a.m. (02:00 UTC), the BW Lesmes was facing north while being towed south by two tugboats.
Meanwhile, according to the data, the Burri was moored and pointing south, about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from the canal’s southern end.
According to a time-lapse of the tracking map that MarineTraffic shared, the Burri veered off course and collided with a BW Lesmes that was already veering off course at 20:40 GMT before turning around and pointing straight ahead.
The Burri, BW Group, and TMS Tankers’ managers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
When Reuters called the Suez Canal Authority’s operations room, the person who answered the phone said he could not provide any information on the tankers.
He did not give his name when asked. The Authority has not yet issued an official statement.
The Suez Canal is one of the busiest waterways in the world and the shortest route between Europe and Asia for ships.
The canal transports about 12% of global trade.
2021’s Ever Given Incident: A Six-Day Traffic Halt Due to Strong Winds
In March 2021, the Suez Canal faced a six-day blockage due to the Ever Given, a massive container ship that ran aground, blocking the passage. Buffeted by strong winds, the ship got stuck sideways across the canal, halting all traffic.
Egyptian authorities suggested “technical or human errors” as contributing factors. The blockage, situated in a vital trade route, caused a significant trade slowdown between Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
By 28 March, around 369 ships were stranded in queues, holding approximately $9.6 billion worth of trade.
On 29 March, Ever Given was partially refloated and moved in the right direction, but the bow remained stuck. The ship was eventually freed with the help of tugboats from Egypt, the Netherlands, and Italy.
After inspection, the canal was declared undamaged, and shipping resumed on March 29.
Due to a dispute over compensation, Egypt later seized the ship on April 13, 2021. A settlement was eventually reached in July between the ship’s owner, insurers, and the Canal Authority.
The vessel resumed its journey on July 7, 2021, after inspections in Port Said, en route to Rotterdam.
Following the incident, the Egyptian government announced plans to widen the narrower sections of the canal.