A huge container ship that blocked the Suez Canal is released

The Suez-Salvage team in Egypt released a huge container ship on Monday, halting world trade through the Suez Canal and ending the crisis that had blocked one of the world’s most important maritime arteries for nearly a week. ..

Helped by the peak of high tide, the tugboat fleet was able to wrench the bulbous bow of a skyscraper-sized Evergiven from the sandy beach of a canal that had been anchored firmly since last Tuesday.

After carrying a packed 220,000 tonnes of ship to the bank of the canal, rescue teams were pulling the ship towards Great Bitter Lake, a large body of water between the northern and southern ends of the canal. There the ship undergoes a technical inspection. , Canal officials said.

Satellite data from MarineTraffic.com confirmed that the ship was moving from the coastline towards the center of the artery.

A video released by the Suez Canal Authority showed that it was escorted by a tugboat that helped Evergiven release it.

“We’ve done that!” Said Peter Belldowski, CEO of Boskalis, a salvage company hired to extract Evergiven, in a statement. “We are pleased to announce that our team of experts has worked closely with the Suez Canal Authority to announce the successful re-emergence of Evergiven … which gives us the freedom to cross the Suez Canal again. . “

Interference causes massive traffic congestion in critical aisles, holding $ 9 billion daily in world trade and straining supply chains already burdened by the coronavirus pandemic.

It was unclear when traffic through the canal would return to normal. At least 367 vessels, carrying crude oil to cattle, are piled up at both ends of the canal, awaiting passage.

Data company Refinitiv estimates that it can take more than 10 days to clear the ship’s backlog. Meanwhile, dozens of vessels have opted for alternative routes around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa. The 5,000-kilometer (3,100-mile) detour takes about two weeks to travel and costs hundreds of thousands of dollars of fuel and money. Other costs.

The dredger vacuumed sand and mud from the bow of the ship, and 10 tugboats pushed and pulled the ship for five days, partially resurfaced at dawn, after which the ship was released.

It is not clear whether the Panama-flagged Japanese-owned cargo carrier Evergiven from Asia to Europe will continue to its original destination, Rotterdam, or will need to enter another port for repairs. There was not.

Ship operators did not provide a timeline for the reopening of important canals carrying more than 10% of world trade, including 7% of world oil. More than 19,000 vessels passed last year, according to canal officials.

Millions of barrels of oil and liquefied natural gas flow through the arteries from the Persian Gulf to Europe and North America. Chinese goods for Europe (furniture, clothing, supermarket basics) also need to cross the canal or bypass Africa.

The unprecedented closure could disrupt oil and gas shipments from the Middle East to Europe, raising concerns about long-term delays, product shortages and rising consumer costs.

Rescue operations have succeeded in relying solely on tugs and dredgers, and authorities have been able to avoid the much more complex and time-consuming task of reducing the weight of ships by unloading 20,000 containers.

By Isabel Debre and Samy Magdy