Suez Canal: “All waiting ships” have passed

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CAIRO | The giant traffic jams formed at both ends of the Suez Canal, after the grounding on March 23 of the huge container ship which had blocked this crucial route for maritime trade for nearly a week, have now been resolved, announced on Saturday. the Canal Authority.

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Traffic on the canal, which accounts for more than 10% of world trade, resumed Monday evening after theEver Given, with a capacity of 200,000 tonnes, was refloated with the help of international experts.

“All the ships waiting in the canal since the grounding of the Panamanian container ship Ever Given have crossed “the canal, said the chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), Admiral Ossama Rabie, in a statement.

Flying the Panamanian flag and operated by Taiwanese shipowner Evergreen Marine Corporation, the ship, which is equivalent to four football fields, was refloated on March 29.

The latter was towed to the Great Amer Lake, in the middle of the Suez Canal, and traffic resumed that same evening between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

Unheard of in its scale, the incident brought traffic to a complete stop on this crucial sea route linking Asia and Europe, and representing more than 10% of international trade.

A total of 422 ships, loaded with 26 million tonnes of cargo, the SCA said, were stranded north and south of the Isthmus, forming gigantic ship bottlenecks.

Numbering 61, the last ships on standby since the passage of theEver Given were able to cross the canal on Saturday, as well as “24 new ships”, according to the same press release.

Nearly 200 men, technical teams from the canal, helped in particular by Smit Salvage, a Dutch company specializing in the rescue of ships in distress, had succeeded Monday in refloating the enormous ship, dredging 30,000 cubic meters of sand and using ‘a dozen tugs.

“Record time”

At the origin of the grounding, strong winds and a sandstorm had first been blamed, before Mr. Rabie raised the possibility of “errors, human or technical”.

For the admiral, the reestablishment of circulation, accomplished in “record time”, constitutes a “new feat” against Egypt’s counter.

Insisting on the importance of this path “for the world”, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Tuesday promised that his country would acquire more suitable equipment to be ready in the event of similar incidents.

According to insurer Allianz, each day of downtime resulted in losses of six to ten billion dollars.

The total value of cargo stranded (oil, livestock, etc.) or having to take an alternate route differed according to estimates, varying between three and more than nine billion dollars.

Last week the epicEver Given had also caused a temporary surge in oil prices.

According to the SCA, Egypt lost between $ 12 million and $ 15 million per day of the closure of the canal, used by 19,000 vessels in 2020, an average of 51.5 vessels per day.

The passage, which is among Cairo’s main sources of income, brought it in around $ 5.7 billion in 2019-2020.

In 2014-2015, a segment of this infrastructure had been the subject of colossal extension works, but Mr. Sissi rejected the idea of ​​widening the southern part of the canal, where the incident took place.

“Economically, it is not useful”, he declared, however evoking “other projects to connect the Red Sea to the Mediterranean”.