The skyscraper-sized container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week has been partially refloated, raising hopes that one of the world’s most important trade routes may soon reopen and allow the backlog of ships to pass.
Osama Rabie, head of the Suez Canal Authority, said Monday his intention to refloat the Ever Given Monday morning after the stern of the 220,000-ton vessel pulled away from the western wall of the canal.
“We floated the ship 80% because the bow is still partially stuck,” he said.
High tide is expected at 11:30 a.m. local time, when the authority hopes to be able to float the vessel completely.
The vessel’s Automatic Identification System (AIS) described the vessel as “underway, powered by an engine” and satellite tracking appeared to show that its position had changed with the bow of the vessel separated from the vessel. the east bank of the canal.
The stern of the ship appears to have turned towards the east shore, with a visible gap in the waterway for the first time since Tuesday.
News of the breakthrough pushed oil prices down, with Brent, the international benchmark for oil, down nearly 2% to $ 63.52 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate, the US benchmark, fell by a similar amount to $ 59.73 a barrel.
Shoei Kisen Kaisha, the Japanese company that owns the ship, had previously said the bailout was “near” after rescue experts managed to change the angle of the ship. The latest effort to free the Ever Given, which involved 10 tugs and other equipment, broke through in the early hours of Monday morning.
The container ship, operated by the Taiwanese group Evergreen, was stuck on the vital trade route since last Tuesday.
The blockade created an accumulation of about 370 ships on either side of the canal, which represents about 12% of world trade. About $ 10 billion in trade flows through the canal every day, Lloyd’s List estimates.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi over the weekend ordered preparations to remove containers from the ship if bailout efforts fail, raising fears the waterway will be cut off for weeks given the complicated and arduous nature of the withdrawal goods far from the port.
The disruption has struck at a time when global supply chains are already under great strain and the distortions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have placed particular pressure on container availability. Soren Skou, chief executive of AP Moller-Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping company, told the Financial Times that the block would be accelerate a change away from just-in-time supply chains.
The prospect of a prolonged blockage of the canal has prompted a number of shipping companies to reroute ships across Africa, which greatly increases the time and cost of travel.
Once the canal is unblocked, the Suez Canal Authority plans to work to allow the passage of 150 ships per day, far more than the 90 ships it can handle on a normal day.
IHS Markit analysts said last week that the Ever Given bailout “will result in a wave of container ships hitting European hub ports quickly, straining port facilities and domestic infrastructure.”
Additional reporting by Hudson Lockett in Hong Kong