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Ship blocking Suez Canal could take days to Free

By Jordi Bou

March 25, 2021 - Efforts to dislodge a mega ship wedged in the Suez canal continue, amid fears that the operation could disrupt global shipments for days.

The MV Ever Given container ship entered the canal from the Red Sea on Tuesday morning and ran aground 45 minutes later.

The ship’s operator and Egyptian officials blamed high winds, along with a sandstorm sweeping the area.

So far, dredgers and tugboats haven’t been able to free the ship. Expert salvage teams from Japan and the Netherlands, whose job it is to respond to boat-related disasters, have been hired to devise a plan.

Already, it seems the ship’s massive weight, some 200,000 tonnes, could make it impossible to dislodge and float. To lighten the load, rescuers may have to remove at least some of the ship’s containers and drain the vessel of the water serving as ballast before further dredging the area and then trying again to nudge the ship using tugboats.

Around 12% of global trade, including 7% of the world’s oil, passes through the canal. After the blockage, the price of international benchmark Brent crude shot up some 3% to $63 a barrel.

Not only will deliveries be delayed, but the jam also prevents the return of empty containers back to Asia, exacerbating a container shortage caused by the pandemic’s disruptions to shipping.

The ship’s owner, Japanese firm Shoei Kisen KK, and its insurers could face claims from the SCA for loss of revenue and from other ships whose passage has been disrupted, insurers and brokers said.

Container ships of this size are likely insured for hull and machinery damage of $100-140 million, insurance sources say.

PUBLISHED: 25/03/2021; STORY: Graphic News