Ever Given Moves, But The Suez Canal Trade Jam Continues

Maritime traffic has resumed this Monday afternoon in the Suez Canal after the Ever Given, the gigantic container ship that had been blocking one of the most important sea crossings in the world for almost a week, was run aground. However, the list of ships waiting to cross from the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea and vice versa exceeded 400 vessels, and the jam is expected to be noticed for a few more days.

The commercial impact of the blockade will last days or even weeks due to the accumulated delays of the waiting ships and the change in plans and routes of other ships that should have passed through this key channel in the transport of goods. Among the affected loads of companies in Europe are containers of tea, wood or Ikea furniture.

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Speaking to Nile TV, Osama Rabie, president of the Suez Canal Authority, announced that the canal was navigable after the 400-meter-long vessel was refloated without damage on Monday. “The ship has come out intact and has no problem. We have just searched the bottom of the Suez Canal and fortunately it is in good condition and has no problems, and the ships will pass through it this Monday,” said Rabie in statements collected by Reuters.

He also acknowledged that it could take up to three days to clear the jam, while a canal source said more than 100 vessels could enter the canal daily.

According to one of the maritime services companies that operate in this infrastructure, this Monday a total of 437 ships were waiting to cross the Suez Canal after the release of the container ship that was blocking the passage.

“Currently 193 vessels are waiting in Port Said, on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, for the southbound convoy and 201 in Suez, on the Red Sea, for the northbound convoy. Another 43 are waiting on the Great Lake,” in the center of the canal, according to Gulf Agency Company (GAC) in a statement.

GAC, which has a coordination office in Suez, added that after being released, the Ever Given has made its way to the Great Lake, in the central area of ​​the canal, where “the hull and bottom of the ship will be inspected again for reasons technicians “before it can get back on track to its destination, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, with its cargo of 18,300 containers.

With the southern section of the canal clear, the first ships have been able to resume navigation. The plan is for the vessels that have been stuck there for the past week to start moving, and then for the convoys to resume – the ships pass through the Suez Canal in convoys, in an orderly manner and in shifts according to their direction, as the The southern section of the canal has only one lane, while the northern section allows navigation in both directions since it was expanded in 2015–.

According to logistics services firm Leth Agencies, 43 ships that were stuck in the Great Lake have started sailing again.

But the companies that operate in this seaway warn that the dozens of boats waiting to be able to cross may take days to do so. “The convoy system will change temporarily until traffic returns to normal, which is expected to occur in 3-4 days,” says GAC.

However, Maersk, the main shipping company operating in the Suez Canal, said for its part that the traffic jam could take “six days or more” to dissolve, until all the ships that are currently queuing have passed.

“As more ships reach the blockade or are redirected, this is an estimate subject to change,” he says in a statement published while the work to refloat the ship was still continuing.

Several vessels, including some from the Taiwanese company Evergreen, the same Ever Given shipping company, have changed their route in recent days to circumnavigate Africa, despite the fact that this involves several more days of travel between Asia and Europe or the United States.

Maersk, for example, had three boats standing in the middle of the Suez Canal, at least another 30 waiting to enter and 15, redirected towards the Cape of Good Hope, in southern Africa.

Although some of these diverted ships have not yet reached the point of no return, the shipping company says they will continue their course, which would contribute, among other things, to reducing the number of vessels accumulated in the canal.

Following the weekend dredging and excavation, Suez Canal Authority workers and a team from the Dutch company Smit Salvage managed to partially refloat the ship on Monday morning. They managed to complete the operation at 15:05 (local time), with the help of the tide.

“The pressure of the times to complete this operation has been evident and unprecedented,” said Peter Berdowski, CEO of Smit Salvage owner Boskalis, in a statement titled “We’ve done it!”

According to the company, approximately 30,000 cubic meters of sand have been dredged to refloat the 224,000-ton container ship and a total of 11 tugs and two other high-powered marine tugs have been used.

The high tide, caused by the full moon, helped the ship to be dragged, first from the stern and later to free the bow, which had been stranded on the eastern bank of the Suez Canal on the 23rd.

During the afternoon of this Monday, television images showed the ship surrounded by tugs moving slowly through the channel. The Canal Authority showed images of how the Ever Given was repositioned vertically and resumed navigation, while the sirens of the ships sounded to celebrate the feat after several days of dredging and traction work.

Navigation was suspended after the Panamanian-flagged ship, owned by the Taiwanese shipping company Evergreen, with 18,300 containers on board, was stranded and stuck diagonally amid strong winds and a sandstorm that hit Egypt.

This has created a traffic jam on this sea lane, one of the busiest in the world and on which 10% of world trade depends.

Much of the oil from the Persian Gulf passes through the Suez Canal to Europe and other Mediterranean countries, and to a lesser extent to the United States and other parts of the world. It is also the gateway to Europe for many goods from Asia, such as automotive and electronic components.

With information from agencies

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