Container ship stuck in Egypt’s Suez Canal is pulled free

Daniel Fowler
March 30, 2021

The SCA did not confirm the news, saying in a statement earlier in the day that "operations have been stepped up around the bow of the ship".

There has been a "surge" in the number of vessels opting for the African route, Lloyd's List said Sunday.

"We pulled it off!" said Peter Berdowski, the head of Boskalis, the specialty company that was asked to move the Ever Given.

A top pilot with the canal authority, speaking on the condition of anonymity as he wasn't authorized to brief journalists, confirmed that the ship had been partially refloated and said that workers were still struggling to dislodge the bow.

"I am excited to announce that our team of experts, working in close collaboration with the Suez Canal Authority, successfully refloated the Ever Given ... thereby making free passage through the Suez Canal possible again".

Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), the technical managers of the container ship, said there were no reports of pollution or cargo damage.

Already, hundreds vessels remained trapped in the canal waiting to pass, carrying everything from crude oil to cattle.

They had focused on efforts to remove sand around the ship, with 27,000 cubic meters cleared at a depth of 18 meters, SCA spokesman George Safwat said Sunday.

Map of Suez Canal
Suez Canal

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has said it can accelerate convoys through the canal once the Ever Given is freed for traffic. "We will not waste one second", Rabie told Egyptian state television. Insurers and shipping companies are still concerned over the backlog and knock-on disruptions that could take weeks and months to get cleared.

Owners and charterers of delayed ships face at least $24 million in expenses they will be unable to recoup as their insurance policies do not cover them and cargo owners could also face uninsured losses, industry sources said.

The Japanese-owned ship had been partially dislodged early Monday, drawing immediate praise from Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Futures for Brent crude, the global benchmark, were last down 2% to $63.28 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate futures, the U.S. benchmark, fell 2% to $59.77.

It's unclear when traffic through the canal, which connects the Mediterranean and Red seas, would return to normal.

Egypt was estimated to have lost some $12-14 million in revenue from the canal for each day it was closed, according to the canal authority. It has blocked the Suez Canal since Tuesday 23 March.

Shipping rates for oil product tankers almost doubled after the ship became stranded, and the blockage disrupted global supply chains, threatening costly delays for companies already dealing with Covid-19 restrictions. The alternative route, around the Cape of Good Hope, adds as many as nine days to the journey of a vessel traveling from Taiwan to Rotterdam, as well as further security risks due to Africa's west coast being heavily afflicted by piracy.

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