Shipping traffic through Egypt’s Suez Canal resumed partially today after tug boats and a ship pulled out the giant container, Ever Given Evergreen, which had been blocking the busy waterway for almost a week, the authority of the passage between Asia, Africa and Europe said. Meanwhile, the insurance claims following Ever Given Evergreen’s disastrous blockage of the Suez Canal are expected to total millions of dollars.
The 400 m long Ever Given Evergreen had jammed diagonally across a southern section of the canal in high winds early on 23 March, halting traffic on the shortest shipping route between Africa, Europe and Asia.
Live footage on a local television station showed tug boats surrounding the cargo vessel and moving slowly in the middle of the canal. The station, ExtraNews, said the ship was moving at a speed of 1.5 knots.
“Admiral Osama Rabie, the Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), announces the resumption of maritime traffic in the Suez Canal after the Authority successfully rescues and floats the giant Panamanian container ship EVER GIVEN,” a statement from the SCA said.
“She’s free,” an official involved in the salvage operation said.
Rescue workers from the SCA and a team from Dutch firm Smit Salvage — after dredging and excavation work over the weekend — had succeeded in partially making the ship afloat earlier today using tug boats, two marine and shipping sources said.
Evergreen Line, which has leased the Ever Given, confirmed the success of the operation. It said it would be repositioned and inspected for “seaworthiness”.
On the last count, 369 vessels were waiting to transit the canal. These included dozens of container ships, bulk carriers, oil tankers and liquefied natural gas (LNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vessels, the SCA’s Rabie said.
The authority said earlier it would be able to accelerate convoys through the canal once the Ever Given Evergreen was freed. “We will not waste one second,” Rabie told Egyptian state television. He said it could take up to three days to clear the backlog. A source in the Suez Canal Authority said more than 100 ships could enter the channel every day hereafter. Shipping group Maersk said the knock-on disruptions to global shipping could take weeks or months to unravel.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who had not publicly commented on the blockage, said Egypt had ended the crisis and assured resumption of trade through the canal.
Oil prices were about 1% lower at $ 63.95 a barrel. Shares of Taiwan-listed Evergreen Marine Corp — the vessel’s lessor — rose 1.75%.
About 15% of world shipping traffic transits the Suez Canal, which is an important source of foreign currency revenue for Egypt. The stoppage is costing the canal between $ 14 million and $ 15 million a day.
Shipping rates for oil product tankers nearly doubled after the ship became stranded, and the blockage has disrupted global supply chains, threatening costly delays for companies already dealing with Covid-19 restrictions.
Maersk was among shippers rerouting cargoes around the Cape of Good Hope, adding up to two weeks to journeys and extra fuel costs.
Ever Given Evergreen‘s insurance claims
This type of vessel is usually covered for machinery and hull damage of about $ 100 million to $ 140 million. Its coverage is in the Japanese market, said two different sources. Machinery and hull insurance covers the cost of a salvage operation.
“It is potentially the world’s biggest ever container ship disaster without a ship going bang,” said an anonymous shipping industry lawyer.