CAIRO (AP) — Egypt announced on Saturday it would increase transit fees for ships, including oil tankers, passing through the Suez Canal, one of the world’s most crucial waterways. .

The Suez Canal Authority said in a statement on Saturday that it would add 15% to charges for tankers carrying petroleum and petroleum products, and 10% for dry bulk carriers and cruise ships.

Authority chief Osama Rabie said the hikes, which will take effect on January 1, are “inevitable and a necessity”. He blamed soaring global inflation rates, which increased the cost of the waterway’s operations, maintenance and marine services.

About 10% of world trade, including 7% of world oil, passes through the Suez Canal, a major source of foreign currency for Egypt, the most populous Arab country with more than 103 million inhabitants.

Egypt has faced daunting economic challenges and lacks the foreign currency needed to purchase essentials such as grain and fuel.

Authorities said 20,649 ships passed through the canal last year, a 10% increase from 18,830 ships in 2020. The canal’s annual revenue reached $6.3 billion in 2021, the most high in its history.

Canal authorities have been scrambling to widen and deepen the southern part of the waterway, since a towering vessel ran aground and closed the canal in March 2021. The six-day blockage has disrupted shipping world.

On August 31, an oil tanker ran aground and briefly blocked the waterway before it was fueled.