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Kamis, 25 Maret 2021

Ever Given Ship blocking Suez Canal could be stuck for weeks - ABC News

A container ship blocking the Suez Canal like a "beached whale" may take weeks to free, the salvage company says, as officials stop all ships from entering the waterway.

The 400 metre Ever Given is blocking transit in both directions through one of the world's busiest shipping channels for oil and grain and other trade linking Asia and Europe.

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said eight tugs were working to move the vessel, which got stuck diagonally across the single-lane southern stretch of the canal on Tuesday morning (local time) amid high winds and a dust storm.

"We can't exclude it might take weeks, depending on the situation," Peter Berdowski, CEO of Dutch company Boskalis which is trying to free the ship, told the Dutch television programme Nieuwsuur.

A total of 206 large container ships including tankers carrying oil and gas, and bulk vessels hauling grain have backed up at either end of the canal, according to tracking data.

A boat navigates in front of a massive cargo ship, named the Ever Green,
The ship's bow and stern had been lifted up against either side of the canal.(

AP: Suez Canal Authority

)

The delay has created one of the worst shipping jams seen in years.

The blockage comes on top of the disruption to world trade already caused in the past year by COVID-19, with trade volumes hit by high rates of ship cancellations, shortages of containers and slower handling speeds at ports.

The SCA, which had allowed some vessels to enter the canal in the hope the blockage could be cleared, said it had temporarily suspended all traffic on Thursday (local time).

Shipping giant Maersk said in a customer advisory it had seven vessels affected.

Mr Berdowski said the ship's bow and stern had been lifted up against either side of the canal.

"It is like an enormous beached whale. It's an enormous weight on the sand," he said.

A satellite image of a long, narrow canal
The SCA had temporarily suspended all traffic on Thursday (local time).(

Planet Labs Inc via Reuters

)

Japanese shipowner Shoei Kisen apologised for the incident and said work on freeing the ship,  "has been extremely difficult" and it was not clear when the vessel would float again.

The ship's GPS signal shows only minor changes to its position over the past 24 hours.

Two professional rescue teams from the Netherlands and Japan will work with local authorities to design a more effective plan to refloat the vessel, Taiwan's Evergreen Marine Corp said.

'Every port in Western Europe is going to feel this'

Roughly 30 per cent of the world's shipping container volume transits through the 193 kilometre Suez Canal daily, and about 12 per cent of total global trade of all goods.

A screenshot of a map with multiple dots that represent ships trying to get through the blocked Suez Canal
The Ever Given remains stuck in the Suez Canal as seen on Marine Vessel Traffic, with a large number of ships waiting at either end.(

Supplied/Marine Vessel Traffic

)

Shipping experts say that if the blockage is not cleared in the coming days, some shipping may re-route around Africa, which would add roughly a week to the journey.

"Every port in Western Europe is going to feel this," Leon Willems, a spokesperson for Europe's largest port in Rotterdam, said.

"We hope for both companies and consumers that it will be resolved soon. When these ships do arrive in Europe, there will inevitably be longer waiting times."

While the biggest impact was on container shipping, there were also 16 crude and product oil tankers due to sail to Europe through the canal, Energy consultancy company Wood Mackenzie said.

The tankers were carrying 870,000 tonnes of crude and 670,000 tonnes of clean oil products such as gasoline, naphtha and diesel, it said.

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Russia and Saudi Arabia are the top two exporters of oil through the canal, while India and China are the main importers, oil analytics firm Vortexa said.

Consultancy company Kpler said the canal accounted for only 4.4 per cent of total oil flows but a prolonged disruption would complicate flows of Russian and Caspian oil to Asia and oil from the Middle East into Europe.

Ever Given's technical manager BSM said dredgers were working to clear sand and mud from around it while tugboats in conjunction with Ever Given's winches work to shift it.

The owner and insurers face claims totalling millions of dollars even if the ship is refloated quickly, industry sources said.

Reuters

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2021-03-25 16:19:10Z
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