26, March 2021
Lloyd’s List, a shipping industry journal, says its “rough calculations” suggest that the massive container vessel Ever Given, which has blocked Egypt’s Suez Canal since Tuesday, is halting about $9.6 billion worth of daily marine traffic.
Lloyd’s List puts westbound traffic at around $5.1 billion a day and eastbound traffic at approximately $4.5 billion.
Satellite pictures released by Planet Labs Inc show the 400-meter long vessel wedged diagonally across the entire canal, one of the busiest trade routes in the world.
Lloyd’s estimates that about 165 vessels are waiting to transit the waterway, while data compiled by Bloomberg show that the figure is 185.
The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) on Thursday announced it was “temporarily suspending navigation” along the waterway, which connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and drastically shortens travel between Asia and Europe, as efforts by tugs and diggers to dislodge the vessel have failed.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s advisor on seaports, Mohab Mamish, told AFP late Thursday that “maritime navigation will resume again within 48-72 hours, maximum”.
“I have experience with several rescue operations of this kind and as the former chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, I know every centimeter of the canal,” Mamish added.
However, salvage experts had warned earlier on Thursday the Suez blockage could last days or even weeks.
Vortexa senior freight analyst, Arthur Richier, said about 13 million barrels of crude oil on 10 tankers could be affected by the disruption, adding nine vessels carrying clean petroleum products, along with biodiesel, sitting outside Suez, were awaiting the resumption of northbound convoys.
How long it takes to refloat the grounded megaship will dictate further impact on markets.
According to shipping data compiled by Bloomberg, around 300 vessels globally are either stuck in the Suez Canal, waiting to transit the waterway or signaling it as their next destination.
Amid the continued closure of the waterway, shiping giants are looking into re-routing cargo ships around the southern tip of Africa.
Japanese ship-leasing firm Shoei Kisen Kaisha, the owner of the giant vessel, said it was facing “extreme difficulty” trying to refloat it.
“We sincerely apologize for causing a great deal of worry to ships in the Suez Canal and those planning to go through the canal,” it said in a statement.
On Wednesday, historic sections of the canal were reopened in a bid to ease the congestion.
In 2018, the canal was temporarily shut after a Greek-owned bulk carrier suffered engine failure that led to a five-ship collision.