A skyscraper-sized cargo ship stuck in Egypt’s Suez Canal put global shipping at risk again on Thursday, as at least 150 other ships slated to cross the crucial waterway remained idle while waiting for l obstacle is clearing, authorities said. The container choked back and forth traffic along the Suez Canal and created what is known as the world’s largest shipping congestion.
Attempts to clear the way using tugs and excavators failed to dislodge the huge container ship stuck in the Suez Canal.
The Ever Given, a Panamanian-flagged ship that transports goods between Asia and Europe, ran aground in the narrow man-made canal separating mainland Africa from the Sinai Peninsula on Tuesday. Since then, efforts to free the ship using dredges, digging and high tide assistance have not yet pushed the container ship aside.
Egyptian authorities and others were to resume work to free the ship Thursday morning after stopping overnight.
As the situation in the Suez Canal grows desperate as the important sea route is “ choked ”, here’s everything you need to know about this turn of events and the potential challenges it poses:
How did the incident happen?
The incident began on Tuesday when high winds blew through the area and lifted sand along the shores. The narrowness of the waterway and the difficulty in navigating due to the poor visibility caused the crew to lose control of the vessel, which struck a sandy embankment laterally. Tugs and diggers have so far failed to dislodge a massive container ship stuck in the Suez Canal on Wednesday.
Is the ship “massive”?
The ship called “Ever Given”, en route to Rotterdam, the Netherlands from China, is approximately 400 meters long. The size of the vessel could be understood by the fact that it weighs 200,000 metric tons, which puts an end to the efforts to dig it. The containers on top of the ship are as tall as a 12-story building.
Are there any reasons to be concerned?
The ship was stranded on the narrow Suez Canal which links the Mediterranean in the north to the Red Sea in the south. The waterway is narrow – less than 675 feet wide (205 meters) in some places. The canal is among the busiest waterways in the world, used by tankers transporting crude from the Middle East to Europe and North America, as well as in the opposite direction. Due to the stranded ship, at least 34 ships carrying 379,000 20-foot containers of cargo were unable to cross the canal in either direction as of Wednesday afternoon. The loss and traffic could get worse if the solution is not reached early.
What can be done?
Experts say it is not easy to take off a gigantic transport ship. On Wednesday, the ship’s technical manager said he had deployed dredging equipment to clean up the sand and mud around Ever Given. However, the process could take days or even weeks. Meanwhile, the dredgers are still trying to loosen the vessel before any attempt to remove it, the ship manager said. Experts say the chances of freeing the ship may not present itself until Sunday or Monday, when the tide peaks.
Are there any losses involved?
Even if there is a two-day delay, it would further exacerbate the supply chain disruption, slowing the delivery of goods to businesses in the UK and Europe. Meanwhile, the oil companies are starting to prepare for the worst. On Wednesday, oil companies sparked renewed interest in reserving tankers with options to bypass the canal, as there were several offers of space on pipelines that allow the waterway to be completely bypassed. Experts suggest the disruption comes against a backdrop of volatile oil prices. There was a price spike earlier this month due to cuts in Saudi production and later there was an increase also due to setbacks in the European coronavirus vaccine program. Therefore, the disruption could lead to a change in oil prices.
Low tide slows down work
The low tide overnight slowed down efforts to dislodge the container ship. The marine services company GAC issued a note to customers overnight saying that efforts to free the vessel using tugs are continuing, but the wind conditions and the sheer size of the vessel are “hampering the operation.” . Vessel tracking software shows that Ever Given has made only minor changes to its position in the past 24 hours despite best efforts.