Suez Canal may expand southern channel, chairman says

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A March 29 video still of the Suez Canal, which the Ever Given (right) had blocked.
A March 29 video still of the Suez Canal, which the Ever Given (right) had blocked.
Mohammed Soliman/Twitter
  • The Suez Canal may be expanded in its southern area, the canal's authority says.
  • This comes after a ship got stuck in the canal after it suffered an engine failure.
  • Meanwhile, the traffic along the canal was not affected by the blockage, the authority said.

The Suez Canal Authority is considering expanding the southern section of the waterway where the container ship Ever Given became stranded, its chairperson said on Tuesday.

It is also looking into procuring cranes that could potentially offload cargo at heights of up to 250 metres, Osama Rabie told Reuters in an interview.

"Our procedures are sound, we are just aiming to improve the service," he said.

The 400-metre-long Ever Given became grounded diagonally across the southern section of the canal during high winds on 23 March. It remained stuck for six days, preventing hundreds of ships from passing and significantly impacting global trade flows.

After it was dislodged, the ship was taken to a lake that separates two sections of the canal where the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has been conducting investigations.

Rabie said data from the ship's recorders had been removed and handed over to an investigation committee, and that the ship would travel on once the procedures were completed.

"We are talking about two or three more days, God willing. But we won't take much time," he said.

The SCA has said that it will continue to take ships of the Ever Given's size and is reinforcing its ability to deal with future problems.

"We will try to get two more tug boats, with pulling power of more than 200 tons - 250, 280, depending," Rabie said.

Meanwhile, traffic in the Suez canal was not affected by an oil tanker's sudden engine failure on Tuesday, the authority said, adding that the vessel had been fixed and started up again.

Shipping websites MarineTraffic and TankerTrackers said earlier that marine traffic had slowed in canal as oil tanker M/T Rumford appeared to face difficulties in the southern part.

"The authority dealt quickly with a sudden failure in the engine of one of the ships crossing the canal, the oil tanker Rumford, with a payload of 62 000 tonnes, while crossing the canal among the southern convoy," the SCA said.

The canal tugs dealt with the incident "in a professional way" and the tanker resumed its movement in the canal after the failure was fixed by the vessel's crew.

"Maritime traffic was not affected", the SCA said, adding that 84 ships passed through the canal from both sides on Tuesday.

Reports of delays in the major global waterway are particularly sensitive following the grounding of the Ever Given on March 23 which blocked the canal for almost a week and threw international supply chains into disarray.

A trade source said that the canal notified companies that the M/T Rumford faced engine trouble in the canal and that it had sent tug boats Tim Hope and Mosaed 3 to its aid.

TankersTracker said on twitter that the vessel had run into difficulty but is finally heading north again.

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) chairman Osama Rabie told Reuters earlier on Tuesday the issue had only lasted about 10 minutes and "was fixed".

The SCA is considering expanding the southern section of the waterway where the container ship Ever Given became stranded, Rabie sa

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