Ship Stuck in Suez Canal Disrupting Daily Flow of Nearly $10B of Goods
March 25, 2021
The ship the length of four football fields that’s wedged across Egypt’s Suez Canal is bottlenecking global trade routes for a third day as at least 150 other vessels needing to pass through the crucial waterway are sitting idle, waiting for the obstruction to clear.
The Ever Given, a Panama-flagged ship that carries cargo between Asia and Europe, ran aground Tuesday in the narrow, man-made canal dividing continental Africa from the Sinai Peninsula. In the time since, efforts to free the ship using dredgers, digging and the aid of high tides have yet to push the container vessel aside — affecting billions of dollars’ worth of cargo.
Famed London-based shipping journal Lloyd’s List estimates each day the Suez Canal is closed disrupts over $9 billion US worth of goods that should be passing through the waterway.
So far, dredgers have tried to clear silt around the massive ship. Tug boats nudged the vessel alongside it, trying to gain momentum. From the shore, at least one backhoe dug into the canal’s sandy banks, suggesting the bow of the ship had plowed into it. However, satellite photos taken Thursday by Planet Labs Inc. and analyzed by The Associated Press showed the vessel still stuck in the same location.
Canal service provider Leth Agencies said at least 150 ships were waiting for the Ever Given to be cleared, including vessels near Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea, Port Suez on the Red Sea and those already stuck in the canal system on Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake.
Cargo ships already behind the Ever Given in the canal will be reversed south back to Port Suez to free the channel, Leth Agencies said. Authorities hope to do the same to the Ever Given when they can free it.
The closure of the trade lane could affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Mideast, which rely on the canal to avoid sailing around Africa. The price of international benchmark Brent crude stood at over $63 a barrel Thursday.