World Media

With Suez still shut, some ships taking long route around Africa

Image showing different methods of moving the Ever Given

Egyptian Suez Canal Authority (SCA) announced, Friday resuming efforts to re-float the delinquent ship "Ever Given" using 9 enormous locomotives.

The Suez Canal is an artificial waterway in Egypt that connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, and it's a crucial route from Europe to the Indian and western Pacific Oceans.

Prices are likely to remain underpinned until the market adjusts to the potential drop in supply or the ship blocking the Suez Canal is freed ahead of schedule. Two professional rescue teams from Japan and the Netherlands are helping Egyptian authorities create a more "effective plan".

The Ever Given, one of the world's largest container ships, is still wedged in the Suez Canal, and the economic effects from the blockage - now in its fourth day - are beginning to unfold.

Container spot rates from Asia to Europe look set to surge again, as carriers are obliged to blank sailings in response to the Suez Canal blockage.

In addition to the over 200 vessels waiting near the canal, more than 100 ships were en route to the waterway, according to the data firm Refinitiv.

Eight tugboats, including one that's 160 tons, have relentlessly tried to pull the ship with little success. But a specialist salvage company assisting the operation says the process could take weeks.

Yet another offered insight on the "impact of sandstorms on ultra large container vessels; what other contributing factors were present just prior to grounding; what error chain was in place leading up to this serious marine casualty"; and the challenges of navigating the Suez Canal.

Mr Reynolds told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the Maersk Ohio, a US-flagged container ship that is 292m long and weighs 50,000 tonnes, was "stacked up" alongside dozens of others vessels near Port Suez.

"It just shows you how vulnerable our supply-chain lines are", said Guy Platten, secretary general for the United Kingdom -based International Chamber of Shipping.

Two tugboats alongside the Ever Given
Two tugboats alongside the Ever Given Credit REUTERS

It may take "weeks" to free the Panama-flagged container ship, which is roughly the size of the Empire State Building in NY. "We're all connected globally", Platten said.

The canal authority has said between 15,000 and 20,000 cubic metres of sand would have to be removed in order to reach a depth of 12-16 metres and refloat the ship. It sank $2.62 on Thursday to $58.56 per barrel.

Arrangements are also being made for high-capacity pumps to reduce the water levels in the vessel's forward void space and the bow thruster room.

That would involve bringing in specialist equipment, including a crane that would need to stretch more than 60m (200ft) high, he said.

The voyage from Suez to northwest Europe takes around nine days at average speeds, Rystad said.

The container shortage also means there is potential for a second toilet paper shortage, as mass wood pulp producers like Brazil struggle to find cargo vessels to ship their products - meaning worldwide product shipment delays.

In fact, many people may have never heard of the region until recently, after a massive cargo ship got stuck diagonally across the canal.

Leth Agencies, a ship and offshore agency in Egypt, said in an update Friday that about "10 tugboats and two dredger vessels are involved in the operation, working around the clock to refloat the vessel".

Lloyd's List, a famed shipping journal, estimates that the closure will prevent goods worth some $9 billion (€7.6 billion) from passing through the waterway each day. Sending ships around the Cape of Good Hope adds more than a week of sailing, while also increasing costs. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to journalists.