A giant container ship remained stuck sideways on Friday in Egypt’s Suez Canal, as authorities race to free the vessel and reopen traffic in a crucial East-West waterway for global shipping.
The Ever Given, a Panama-flagged ship that carries cargo between Asia and Europe, ran aground on Tuesday in the narrow, man-made canal dividing continental Africa from the Sinai Peninsula.
The ship, owned by Japanese firm Shoei Kisen KK, has blocked traffic in the canal, leaving dozens of other ships stranded in the Mediterranean and Red Seas.
Here are the latest updates:
Oil prices recover some ground on fears Suez blockage may last weeks
Oil prices reversed a sharp sell-off a day earlier to rise 1 percent on Friday on mounting fears that it could take weeks to dislodge the ship, which would squeeze supplies of crude and refined products.
Prices, however, were still headed for a third consecutive weekly loss, with the outlook for demand dented by fresh coronavirus lockdowns in Europe.
Brent crude was higher by 54 cents, or 0.9 percent, at $62.49 a barrel by 0432 GMT, after dropping 3.8 percent on Thursday.
Tugboats and dredgers still working to free ship
The vessel’s bow remains stuck in the eastern wall of the canal, while its stern appeared lodged against the western wall — an extraordinary event that experts said they had never heard of happening before in the canal’s 150-year history.
The Suez Canal Authority, which operates the waterway, has deployed several tugboats in efforts to refloat the massive vessel, including a specialized suction dredger that is able to shift 2,000 cubic meters of material every hour.
As of Friday morning, the vessel remained grounded in the same position, with tugboats and dredgers still working to free it, according to Canal service provider Leth Agencies. It reminded unclear when the route would reopen.
The Dutch to the rescue
A team from Boskalis, a Dutch firm specialised in salvaging, started working with the canal authority on Thursday. The rescue efforts have focused on dredging to remove sand and mud from around the port side of the vessel’s bow.
The canal authority said that they would need to remove between 15,000 to 20,000 cubic meters (530,000 to 706,000 cubic feet) of sand to reach a depth of 12 to 16 meters (39 to 52 feet).
That depth is likely to allow the ship to float freely again, it said.
UPDATE: Help on the way for #EVERGIVEN.
Dredging & heavy lift experts Boskalis have a team steaming towards the “very heavy whale on the beach”* & expect to arrive Thursday AM.
CEO: could take days, or weeks.
— John Scott-Railton (@jsrailton) March 25, 2021
Headaches for global shipping
The blockage is caused headaches for global trade. Around 10 percent of world trade flows through the canal, which is particularly crucial for the transport of oil.
The closure also could affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Mideast.
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, Leth Agencies said.
Here are five things to know about the Suez Canal gridlock.
Even-greater backlog looms for shippers
Using data from Automatic Identification System trackers on ships at sea, data firm Refinitiv shared an analysis with the Associated Press news agency showing over 300 ships remained en route to the waterway over the next two weeks.
Some vessels could still change course, but the crush of ships listing the Suez Canal as their destination shows that an even-greater backlog looms for shippers already under pressure amid the coronavirus pandemic.
How much is The Big Ship costing the world? The price of moving a container from China to Europe has climbed to $8,000, almost quadruple the rate from a year ago. https://t.co/jMoenxUdqX
— Gregg Carlstrom (@glcarlstrom) March 26, 2021