New attempt to re-float ship blocking Suez Canal fails

Bernhard Schulte Ship management says two additional tugs will arrive on March 28 to help with the rescue.

Dislodging the ship that is stuck in the Suez Canal could take days or even weeks, experts said, as an ever-greater backlog of ships gathered in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean waiting for passage.

As of Friday evening, the giant Ever Given vessel remained grounded in the same position. 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.

This live blog is now closed. These were Friday’s updates:


White House seeing impact on energy markets from Suez Canal blockage

The Biden administration sees an impact of the vessel stuck in the Suez Canal on energy markets and will respond to the situation if needed, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said.

US President Joe Biden holds the first formal news conference of his presidency at the White House [Leah Millis/Reuters]

Oil jumps 4 percent on fears Suez Canal blockage may last weeks

Oil prices rose more than 4 percent on Friday, rebounding on concerns it could take weeks to dislodge a giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal, 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.

Ships are seen at the entrance of the Suez Canal [Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters]

Hapag Lloyd has diverted some ships, others waiting at Suez Canal

Four vessels of German container shipper Hapag-Lloyd are waiting at Port Said at the north end of the Suez Canal, where a vessel ran aground on Tuesday, and six have been rerouted around the Cape of Good Hope, it said on Friday.

The Hamburg-based company said that two other ships were affected in a note to customers.

One was scheduled to reach the Suez Canal on Friday and another was locked in at the Great Bitter saltwater lake in the region.


Stranded ship’s technical manager says attempt to re-float unsuccessful

An attempt to re-float the stranded container ship blocking the Suez Canal has failed, the ship’s technical manager, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), said on Friday.

The firm said a Dutch rescue team from Smit Salvage had confirmed that two additional tugs would arrive on March 28 to assist in re-floating the ship.

“The focus is now on dredging to remove sand and mud from around the port side of the vessel’s bow,” BSM said in a statement.

A satellite image shows the Suez Canal blocked by the stranded container ship Ever Given in Egypt [Reuters]

Suez ship rescuers weigh time and tide with risk of tip or tear

The Dutch emergency response team hired to free the vast ship blocking the Suez canal has pulled off some dramatic recoveries, including lifting Russia’s Kursk nuclear submarine from the Barents Sea floor, but says this is one of the trickiest.

Weighing 200,000 tonnes without cargo, the Ever Given is the heaviest vessel that Smit Salvage, a subsidiary of the Dutch marine services company Boskalis contracted in the rescue, has faced in its nearly 180-year history.


Suez Canal blockage could cost $6bn to $10bn in lost trade -Allianz

The container ship blocking the Suez Canal could cost global trade $6bn to $10bn a week, a study by German insurer Allianz showed on Friday.

The study by Europe’s biggest insurer also found that each week of immobilisation shaves some 0.2 to 0.4 percentage points off annual trade growth.

“The problem is that the Suez Canal blockage is the straw that breaks global trade’s back,” the study’s authors wrote.

“First, suppliers’ delivery times have lengthened since the start of the year and are now longer in Europe than during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.”


Russia says Suez jam shows Arctic route should be developed: agency

The Suez Canal jam has highlighted the importance of further developing Russia’s Arctic shipping route, which is increasingly accessible due to climate change, a senior Russian ambassador has said.

“Obviously it’s necessary to think about how to efficiently manage transportation risks and develop alternative routes to the Suez Canal, first and foremost the Northern Sea Route,” Russia’s ambassador-at-large Nikolai Korchunov told the Interfax news agency.

Stranded container ship Ever Given, one of the world’s largest container ships, is seen after it ran aground, in Suez Canal [Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters]

Fears of prolonged Suez Canal blockage drive oil prices higher

Oil prices rose sharply on Friday on mounting concerns that it could take weeks to dislodge a giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal, possibly squeezing 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.

Read more here.


Africa-bound: Ships set for costly detour amid Suez blockage

Ships are beginning costly and time-consuming detours around Africa with the Suez Canal still blocked by a massive container vessel, as concerns mount that a complex rescue mission could take weeks.

The prospect of a longer-than-anticipated outage along what’s arguably the world’s most important maritime trade route threatens further turmoil in a shipping sector that’s already scrambling to keep sea transportation for everything from finished goods to energy and commodities on track.

Read more here.


VIDEO: Suez Canal jam explained


Turkey offers Egypt help for Suez jam

Turkey can send its Nene Hatun vessel to help resolve a blockage on the Suez Canal, Transport Minister Adil Karaismailoglu said, amid a recent push by Ankara to repair its strained ties with Egypt after years of animosity.

“We have conveyed our offer to help to our Egyptian brothers and if a positive response comes from them, our Nene Hatun ship is among the few in the world that can carry out work of this nature,” Karaismailoglu told broadcaster NTV, adding Ankara had not received a response yet but was ready to act.


Suez Canal Authority: Tugging operations to resume as soon as dredging is complete

Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority said that tugging operations to free the stranded container ship will resume after completing dredging operations to remove up to 20,000 cubic meters of sand.

The authority said dredgers had gotten within 15 metres of the bow of the ship and that they could only safely get as close as 10 meters.

The authority estimated that dredging operations were about 87 percent complete.


Images show the ship stuck at Suez

Following are satellite images showing the ship that is stuck in the Suez Canal:

Images were obtained from Twitter page of Director General of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin [Handout via Reuters]

‘Trying my best. No promises’

Meanwhile, there’s no let up in the torrent of memes and gifs lampooning the Suez Canal situation.

The Twitter account @SuezDiggerGuy, “Guy With the Digger at Suez Canal,” had nearly 15,000 followers by Friday and a profile line that read: “Trying my best. No promises.”

Netizens also conjured up Lego images of the digger and the bow of the container ship, which is carrying consumer goods from Chinese factories to European households.

Once it became clear the ship could be stuck for weeks, a website quickly spun up, https://istheshipstillstuck.com.

Here’s our larger take on Suez Canal memes.


Owner of ship aims to free Ever Given ‘tomorrow night’

Shoei Kisen, the Japanese owner of the container ship blocking the Suez Canal, said it aims to free the ship “tomorrow night Japan time”, the Nikkei reported on Friday, giving a much more positive outlook than most experts.

A spokeswoman for the owner in Japan said that the refloating work was ongoing but that the company did not yet know when the effort would succeed.


Downtime could ‘certainly last at least two weeks’

Speaking to Bloomberg, Randy Giveans, senior vice president of Equity Research for Energy Maritime at Jefferies LLC, said that if cargo needs to be unloaded or extensive repairs made to the canal itself, “then the downtime could certainly last at least two weeks”.

On Wednesday, Peter Berdowski, chief executive officer of Boskalis Westminster, the parent company of the salvage team, said “I can’t exclude that it can last weeks if the ship is really stuck”.

The process would take that long if “you need to get rid of cargo and you need to do dredging as well,” he said in an interview on the Nieuwsuur TV programme in the Netherlands.


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.


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.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

Related

More from Economy
Most Read