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Suez Canal Traffic Normal Amid Unrest, Operator Says

Shipping traffic through the Suez Canal has remained unaffected by protests in Egypt over the past six days, an official with the waterway’s operator said today.

Thirty-eight ships passed through the canal today carrying 1.5 million tons of cargo, Suez Canal Authority spokesman Mahmoud Abdelwahab said in a telephone interview. That compares with 47 vessels that transited the waterway yesterday, he said.

More than 4 million barrels a day of crude oil, or 4.5 percent of global production, are shipped through the canal or a pipeline that runs adjacent to it, according to New York-based McQuilling Services LLC. The world’s longest man-made waterway is the fastest crossing from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean.

Almost a week of violent protests against the rule of President Hosni Mubarak shook financial markets in the Middle East and contributed to a 4.3 percent rise in crude oil Jan 28. Mubarak appointed Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s intelligence chief, as vice president, a sign the man who’s ruled Egypt for three decades may be prepared to hand over power. Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif’s government resigned at Mubarak’s request.

The Suez Canal is a 120-mile (190-kilometer) shipping route that carries about a 10th of world trade.

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