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Suez Canal Crisis: Shipping Companies Start Rerouting Cargo

Suez Canal Crisis: Shipping Companies Start Rerouting Cargo
folder_openMore from Africa access_time 21 days ago
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By Staff, Agencies

Global shipping companies have begun to re-route cargo away from the Suez Canal as the blockage of the crucial international waterway by the stricken vessel ‘Ever Given’ entered a fourth day.

With the stuck ship holding up an estimated $9.5bn worth of goods in huge traffic jams at either end of the canal, seven tankers carrying liquefied natural gas [LNG] were diverted on Friday after the blockage caused traffic in the Suez Canal to be suspended.

Three of the tankers were being diverted towards the longer route around Africa, via the Cape of Good Hope, data intelligence firm Kpler said, adding that majority of the diverted tankers originally destined for Suez Canal were now headed elsewhere.

“A total of 16 LNG vessels’ planned transit via the Suez Canal will be affected if the congestion persists until the end of this week,” said Rebecca Chia, a Kpler analyst based in Singapore.

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.

An unnamed Egyptian canal authority official told Associated Press that the refloating operation was a “very sensitive and complicated” operation which needs to “be handled very carefully.” They wanted to avoid “any complications” that could extend the canal closure.

The canal authority said late on Thursday that they would need to remove between 15,000 to 20,000 cubic meters of sand to reach a depth of 12 to 16 meters. That depth is likely to allow the ship to float freely again, it said.

At least four Long-Range 2 tankers that might have been headed towards Suez from the Atlantic basin were now likely to be evaluating a passage around the Cape of Good Hope, London-based shipbrokers Braemar ACM said on Friday morning. Each LR-2 tanker can carry around 75,000 tons of oil.

The international shipping company Maersk said on Friday it was “looking at all alternatives” for its nine container ships stuck in the queues.

Meanwhile, authorities in Egypt will continue to work with salvage teams from all over the world on Friday to free the Ever Given, which became lodged across the southern section of the canal on Tuesday when it lost control during a storm.

Tugs have been unable to pull it free and efforts to dig out the bow with excavators have come to nothing.

Experts fear that the massive Panama-registered ship, which is 400-m long and has a gross tonnage of almost 220,000, has wedged so far into the sand on either bank of the canal that it might not be possible to dislodge it without removing some of its cargo.

About 12% of all global trade flows through the 193km-long canal, which allows tankers and container ships heading between Asia and Europe to avoid a long trip around Africa.