World How That Massive Container Ship Stuck in the Suez Canal Is Already Costing the World Billions of Dollars
Opinion: Suez Canal traffic jam blocks the world's jugular vein
A failure of machinery, human error or natural events -- high winds and reduced visibility - may have caused Ever Given to run ashore in the Suez Canal, writes Salvatore R. Mercogliano. But its impact will resonate far from its banks as it has blocked the jugular of one of the largest trade routes in human history. The Suez Canal was opened in November 1869 to great fanfare after 10 years of excavation. A joint endeavor by France and Great Britain, it provided a shorter route to Asia than having to circumnavigate Africa. Connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea, the vital waterway was essential to maritime commerce.
Rescuers are racing tobefore tides shift next week, potentially stranding it there for weeks and costing the global economy tens of billions of dollars.
As backhoes and tug boats worked around the Panama-flagged Ever Giving’s 400-meter-long hull on Thursday evening, experts began to tot up the economic and environmental ramifications of a protracted obstruction. Meanwhile, vessel tracking data showed that some container ships had already started redirecting around the African Cape, a route that can add two weeks of journey length.
Tugs and dredgers try to free megaship blocking Suez Canal
Tugboats and dredgers were working Friday to free a giant container ship blocking Egypt's Suez Canal for a fourth day, forcing companies to re-route services from the vital shipping lane around Africa. The MV Ever Given, which is longer than four football fields, has been wedged diagonally across the entire canal since Tuesday, shutting the waterway in both directions. The blockage has caused a huge traffic jam for more than 200 ships at either end of the 193-kilometre (120-mile) long canal and major delays in the delivery of oil and other products.
Like much of the Asia to Europe traffic that transits one of the world’s most important shipping lanes, the Taiwan-operated mega tanker had been bound for Rotterdam. But as it traversed through the 205-meter wide channel it lost the ability to steer amid high winds and dust storms, according to a statement by. Evergreen Marine, the Taiwanese firm that operates the ship, said it “was suspected of being hit by a sudden strong wind, causing the hull to deviate from the waterway”.
A full investigation is yet to be undertaken, but vessel management firm Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement said initial investigations had ruled out any mechanical or engine failure as a cause of the grounding, the BBC. This is not the first time the 200,000-tonne Ever Giving has been involved in an accident. In Oct. 2019, it crushed a 25-meter long ferry against a pontoon in Hamburg. The German-language Hamburg Morgenpost listed strong winds as a probable cause and quoted an expert that said attempting to maneuver the vessel in such conditions would be akin to “driving on black ice.”
Egypt's president orders preparations be made to unload Ever Given's cargo if refloating fails, a high risk strategy adding days of delay
The giant Ever Given ship has a cargo of 20,000 container boxes. Helicopters would most likely need to be used to lighten the load.President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi outlined the plan to the Suez Canal Authority on Sunday morning, Daily News Egypt reported.
On Wednesday, Dubai-based shipping logistics firm GACthat the ship had been partially refloated and was resting “alongside the canal bank”, citing information from the Suez Port Authority. Traffic was “expected to resume as soon as the vessel is towed to another position,” the statement said. But the following morning the Ever Giving could be viewed on shipping monitors having barely moved and still skewed starboard across the channel. As of Thursday evening, there were hundreds of ships carrying commodities and consumer goods lined up behind the snarl.
Here’s what to know about the stoppage of the Suez Canal, and what it might portend for global trade:
How long is the ship likely to be stuck?
Most likely days and possibly weeks. Currently, tides in the Suez Canal are getting higher, which means that each day until they peak Monday and Tuesday it should get easier to refloat the Ever Given. But after next Thursday, tides will decrease for several weeks making it harder to refloat the vessel.
Ever Given, the giant ship blocking the Suez Canal, had another accident in 2019 when it crashed into a small ferry in Germany
The Suez Canal blockage is not the first accident for the big boat, and winds were also named as the cause in the 2019 incident.But apparently, it wasn't the first accident for the big boat.
Two days of trying to achieve that by tugboat have been unsuccessful. Other options include dredging around the ship and offloading ballast water, fuel, or cargo. The latter entails a complex operation that could take days, if not weeks.
On Thursday morning, container ships were still steering towards the Suez, indicating that the carriers hoped for a timely resolution to the blockage, according to an email seen by TIME from a director of a consultancy to colleagues working with shippers importing and exporting goods via the Suez Canal. But by Thursday evening, some large freight ships had begun to divert their routes towards the Cape of Good Hope, suggesting they were betting against the blockage being cleared any time soon.
How much does each day of delay cost?
The International Chamber of Shipping estimates that $3bn worth of cargo passes through the waterway every day. A Thursday morningin industry publication Splash, two days after the ship became lodged, read “$6 Billion and Counting.”
But it’s difficult to put a more precise figure on it because of the vast range of goods transported by sea. On a shipment of waste paper, for example, delays are inconsequential; for high-end electronics timed to arrive for a launch, they’re crippling.
Huge ship blocking Suez Canal partially refloated, more work needed
Huge ship blocking Suez Canal partially refloated, more work neededISMAILIA, Egypt (Reuters) - A massive container ship blocking Egypt's Suez Canal for nearly a week has been partially refloated, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said on Monday, raising hopes the busy waterway will soon be reopened for a huge backlog of ships.
The variability hasn’t stopped academics from trying to come up with a metric. In a 2012 working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, economists David Hummels and Georg Schaur estimated that each day of shipping delay incurred a cost of between 0.6% to 2.3% of the value of the goods on board a given ship. As hundreds of ships line up waiting for the Ever Giving‘s removal, the costs will spiral quickly.
How will this impact global trade?
It will be felt around the world. The 120-mile-long artificial waterway, which connects the Indian Ocean with the Red Sea by way of the Mediterranean, accounts for 12% of global trade and transits between 5% and 10% of the world’s seaborne oil.
That represents a relatively small proportion of the world’s hydrocarbon traffic; analystsMarketWatch that about 3 million barrels of oil per day passed through the Suez Canal, but a few days of slowdown would not have a critical impact on the market. Oil prices ticked downwards on Thursday, according to Reuters, after jumping about 6% from a six-week low the day before.
The impact on freight costs is likely to be more pronounced. Almost a third of the world’s seaborne freight passes through the Suez Canal—from food to farming equipment; car parts to carpets. And the cost of delays will eventually be passed on to the consumer.
How the Giant Boat Blocking the Suez Canal Was Freed: Dredgers, Tugboats, and a Full Moon
How a celestial body contributed to the rescue effortsThe recovery vessels took advantage of high spring tides around the full moon on Sunday to free the Ever Given, which had blocked Egypt’s Suez Canal for almost a week. Its partial refloating just before dawn on Monday drew cheers and foghorn blasts from the bridges of other vessels caught in the bi-directional snarl that had held up hundreds of ships and billions of dollars worth of cargo each day since March 23.
Even before this week’s incident, freight shipping rates had been at an unprecedented high. The COVID-19 pandemic stranded thousands of mariners at sea, held up port operations, and even led to a slowdown in the production of freight containers. Meanwhile, the balance of trade shifted increasingly to Asia, and global lockdowns prompted people with disposable income to spend more money on imported goods.
The boost in demand, combined with a shortage of freight containers has led freight rates to “through the roof,” says Jan Hoffmann, Chief of Trade and Logistics at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Last month, he says, spot prices hit three times the average, and twice as much as any other peak. “The short-term impact of this grounding will be further pressure on higher freight rates, as the waiting ships and containers compound the shortage of equipment,” says Hoffmann.
What about the environmental costs?
Maritime transport already contributes to between 2% to 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, similar to that of Germany, yet it is exempt from the Paris Agreement. Ships circumnavigating the African Cape instead of transiting the Suez Canal—and traveling faster to make up for lost time— entails additional fuel consumption and emissions in the short term.
But an incident like this should also prompt a reappraisal of how the global shipping industry works, says Diane Gilpin, founder of the U.K.-based Smart Green Shipping Alliance. It was in part pressure to cut costs and reduce emissions that led to container ships being built on the unmanageable scale of the Ever Given, she says. But better global logistics co-ordination and practices such as Slow Steaming, which involves operating container ships below their maximum speed, and nearshoring, which involves moving production closer to end consumers, offer more sustainable solutions. Research the alliance conducted with the Tyndall Center for Climate Change at Britain’s Manchester University found that if you slow a fleet down by 17% you can save 25% of emissions from that fleet.
“Having this visual underlining what shipping does gives us an opportunity to ask is that really what we want,” says Gilpin, “do we really want to be shipping this much stuff around the world, and be at the mercy of these really brittle supply chains?”
How a dredger and a fleet of tugboats helped free the Ever Given ship from the Suez Canal .
It took approximately six days to free the massive container ship from the Suez Canal after preventing an estimated $50 billion in global trade.The Ever Given became lodged in the side of the Suez Canal last Tuesday. Officials suspect the ship became stuck due to high winds and a large dust storm. A previous Insider report also revealed that the container ship was traveling nearly 5 knots faster than permitted in the canal, though experts explained that speeding up is a tactic used to better control a vessel during a wind storm.