Daily Management Review

Stranded Ship Could Lock Block Suez Canal For Weeks Affecting Global Trade


Stranded Ship Could Lock Block Suez Canal For Weeks Affecting Global Trade
There was a new set back to global trade as authorities of the Suez Canal stopped all ships entering the channel on Thursday as the huge container ship continued to block the busiest channel of the world trade as the salvage company said that it will take weeks to free the channel of the blockade.
One of the busiest shipping channels of the world for sea transportation of oil and grain and other trade linking Asia and Europe has been completely blocked in both directions by the 400 metre vessel Ever Given – which is almost as long as the Empire State Building is high.
On Tuesday morning while there were high winds and a dust storm, the vessel got stuck diagonally across the single-lane southern stretch of the canal and currently nine tugs were working to move the stuck vessel, said the Suez Canal Authority (SCA).
"We can't exclude it might take weeks, depending on the situation," Peter Berdowski, CEO of Dutch company Boskalis, one of two rescue teams trying to free the ship, told the Dutch television programme "Nieuwsuur".
According to shipping tracking data, one of the worst shipping jams seen for years has been created as a total of 206 large container ships and tankers carrying oil and gas, and bulk vessels ferrying grain have been stuck at either end of the canal.
This hiccup in global trade comes at a time when there are hopes and efforts of a turnaround in the global trade following the hit of the Covid-19 pandemic all throughout last year. There were a large number of ship cancellations, shortages of containers and slower handling speeds at ports because of the pandemic.
Shipping companies are being forced to seek out alternate routes for their ships at sea. The alternative of diverting vessels around Africa's Cape of Good Hope was being contemplated by the world's number one line A.P. Moller Maersk. The company added that this rerouting would result in ships taking five to six days more to move between Asia and Europe. The company also said that trains and airplanes could be used for transporting time-sensitive cargo. No final decision however gas been taken by it.
All traffic in the Suez Canal was temporarily suspended on Thursday, said the SCA which had allowed some vessels to enter the canal with the hope that the blockage could be cleared. The incident had affected seven of its vessels, Maersk said in a customer advisory.
The bow and stern of the stranded ship has been lifted up against either side of the canal, Berdowski said.
"It is like an enormous beached whale. It's an enormous weight on the sand. We might have to work with a combination of reducing the weight by removing containers, oil and water from the ship, tug boats and dredging of sand."
While apologising for the incident, the Japanese owner of the stranded ship Shoei Kisen said that the efforts to free the ship that was headed for Europe from China "has been extremely difficult" and the company was unsure when the efforts would lead to a clearing of the cabal.