…Consumers could see shortage of goods, higher prices if ship not freed for weeks
…367 vessels carrying crude oil, cattle, other goods still waiting to pass through canal
…Egypt already lost $95m in revenue
…Global trade, supply chains lost $70bn to-date, at $10bn daily
…Egypt ought to have prepare capacity for ‘emergency’ ere long – Nigerian maritime expert
Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
Respite appeared on the global shipping scene on Monday morning, as engineers had ‘partially refloated’ the mammoth ocean container ship, MV Ever Given, which had blocked traffic through the Egypt Suez Canal since last week Tuesday.
The vessel, however, is still stuck in the canal’s waterway.
Details of when the Panama-flagged 240,000-tonne ship would eventually be set free from the canal was not immediately made known the Egyptian authorities.
At least 367 vessels, carrying several goods from crude oil to cattle, are still waiting to pass through the canal, said Associated Press.
If the ship is freed in the next few days, clearing the backlog of ships already waiting to pass through the canal would take at least 10 days, Refinitiv, a data provider firm said.
Dozens other ships have been taking the alternate route around the Cape of Good Hope at Africa’s southern tip. This sudden detour adds some two weeks to their journeys; and also costs the ships hundreds of thousands of dollars in fuel and other costs.
Global consumers may face shortages and higher prices for several goods such as: crude oil, LNG, electronics, toys, furniture and other goods if attempts to fully refloat the colossal container ship drag on for several weeks, experts said.
Already, Egypt has lost $95 million in revenue since the canal transits stopped seven days ago, data obtained from Refinitiv said.
The obstruction caused by the mammoth container ship has cost global trade and supply chains a total of $70 billion for seven days to-date. Each day, the obstruction holds up $10 billion in global trade and supply chains, already strained by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Since opening Suez Canal as ship passageway to Europe from Africa in 1869, the canal today handles 12 per cent of world trade, and 30 per cent of world’s shipping container volume transits through the 193-kilometre Suez Canal daily.
But Osama Rabie, head of Suez Canal Authority (SCA) told the Financial Times that they refloated the ship by 80 per cent, because the bow is still partially stuck.
An expected high tide is also giving the SCA hope of floating the ship fully.
Egypt’s unpreparedness for emergency rescue
But Segun Adekunle, a maritime professional from Lagos, Nigeria, blames Egypt though, for only reaping huge revenues from the canal all these years, without ever thinking of preparing its capacity for emergency rescue for a force majeure as the current one.
MV Ever Given, a skyscraper-size ship among the largest in the world, which carries trade between Asia and Europe, became grounded on Tuesday 23 March in the narrow, man-made Suez waterway dividing continental Africa from the Sinai Peninsula.
According to satellite data from MarineTraffic.com, the ship’s bulbous bow, which was once wedged deep in the canal’s eastern bank, had been partly gained from the shore. But it still stuck at the canal’s edge. According to tracking data, the ship’s stern had swung around and now places in the middle of the waterway.
This development marks the vessel’s most significant movement since it got stuck at the canal last week. However, the salvage crew has advised for caution, saying obstacles still loomed.
Peter Berdowski, the chief executive officer of Boskalis, the salvage firm hired to extract MV Ever Given, told Dutch NPO Radio 1: “Don’t cheer too soon.” He said further that: “The good news is that the stern is free but we saw that as the simplest part of the job.”
He noted that the salvaging crew’s toughest task remains at the front of the ship, where workers would struggle to tow the fully laden 224,000-tonne vessel over the clay of the canal bank.
But Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, in his first comment on the vessel, said on Facebook that: “Egyptians have succeeded in ending the crisis” of the stranded ship despite the operation’s “massive technical complexity.”