The Suez Canal remained open Friday as riots against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak spread across Egypt, raising concerns the protests could disrupt oil transport and other shipping.
Oil prices jumped more than $3 a barrel in trading Friday, and shipping lines said they were watching the situation in Egypt closely for any impact on the huge business that moves through the Suez Canal.
"We are monitoring the situation closely and our primary concern is the safety of our employees in Egypt," said Mary Ann Kotlarich, a spokesperson for A.P. Moller-Maersk, parent of Maersk Line, which operates many services that pass through the canal.
Maersk is also parent of APM Terminals, which owns 55 percent of the Suez Canal Container Terminal in Port Said, which it operates under a 30-year lease. "We do not at this point want to speculate on possible consequences for our operations in Egypt, or on Suez Canal vessel transits," Kotlarich said.
Closing the canal would force ships moving between Asia and Europe to go around Africa's Cape of Good Hope, adding some 6,000 miles to the journey.
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