World Ever Given is no longer blocking the Suez Canal, but Russia sees a long-term benefit from it being stuck
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.
- The Ever Given, a container ship, has been freed after a week stuck in the Suez Canal.
- Russian officials capitalized on the blockage to tout the Northern Sea Route, which Moscow wants to develop.
- The Northern Sea Route remains treacherous for commercial activity.
Ever Given, a 1,300-foot container ship,after being grounded in the Suez Canal for six days, blocking hundreds of ships from traversing the important transit corridor.
Suez Canal Remains Choked as Elite Team Tackles Stuck Ship
A huge backlog of vessels was building up around the Suez Canal amid warnings that the salvage team could need days -- or even weeks -- to prise out the giant container ship that’s blocking the crucial waterway. Work to re-float the Ever Given and allow passage for oceangoing carriers hauling almost $10 billion of oil and consumer goods continued without success on Thursday in Egypt. Tugs and diggers have so far failed to budge the vessel, and some experts say the crisis could drag on for several days. The Suez Canal Authority has temporarily suspended traffic along the waterway.
Even as crews worked to free Ever Given, Russian officials seized on the incident to tout the Northern Sea Route, an Arctic maritime corridor on which Moscow is betting big.
On March 25, an Arctic development official with state nuclear firm Rosatom, which is in charge of the development of the route, said the incident showed "how fragile any route between Europe and Asia is."
"The Northern Sea Route's development hedges logistical risks and makes global trade more sustainable," the official, Vladimir Panov,Russia's Interfax news agency. "Undoubtedly, such Asian countries as China, Japan, and South Korea will take the precedent of the Suez Canal's blockage into consideration in their long-term strategic plans."
A day later, Russia's senior Arctic official, Nikolai Korchunov, said the canal incident "highlighted" the need for alternatives to the Suez Canal, "primarily the Northern Sea Route."
Energy, retail, and food: Ever Given blockage threatens supply chains
Global trade has been unsettled after a massive container vessel became wedged in the Suez Canal and blocked passage, possibly for weeks to come. © Provided by Washington Examiner The 200,000-ton behemoth known as Ever Given ran aground earlier this week when a powerful sandstorm packing winds in excess of 45 mph buffeted the ship and caused it to become lodged between the banks of the critical passageway. Since the incident, officials have been working to dislodge the vessel, although estimates about how long that might take vary from days to weeks.
"Accordingly, the demand for the Northern Sea Route will grow in the short term and the long term. There is no alternative to that," Korchunov.
Russia has invested heavily in the Northern Sea Route, which cutsoff a trip between Europe and Asia via the Suez Canal. President Vladimir Putin that cargo moved along the NSR should rise to 80 million metric tons by 2024, up from about 11 million metric tons in 2017.
Russia's Energy Ministry has said cargo traffic on the route in 2020 was almost 33 million metric tons, and that amount "has a great potential for expanding" after the blockage of the Suez Canal, the ministryMonday.
The time during which the route is navigable "continues to expand and in 2020 reached 9-10 months," the ministry added.
Warming has allowed more traffic, withof the route through early December 2020, compared to 37 in 2019.
Massive ship blocking the Suez Canal has been freed
After being stuck since Tuesday, the Ever Given is now afloat, Bloomberg News reported.The Ever Given had been stuck sideways across Egypt's canal since Tuesday, clogging a vital artery for the global economy and forcing multiple ships to turn around and reroute through Africa.
A tanker made theever in May, and Russia that this year. The same tanker sailed westward from China in February, becoming commercial vessel to transit the route at that time of year.
While receding ice in the Arctic has made human activity more viable, the Northern Sea Route "is not really an alternative in a competitive commercial sense," Elizabeth Buchanan, a lecturer of strategic studies at Deakin University based at the Australian War College, told Insider.
The unpredictability of Arctic ice means insurance is still expensive compared to other routes, the treacherous conditions on the route and Moscow's stringent access requirements are likely to turn shippers off, and the lack of ports and other transportation links along the route "also factors into commercial considerations," added Buchanan, a fellow at West Point's Modern War Institute.
While the 33 million metric tons of goods carried along the route in 2020 was a record,was on the western portion, and transit between Europe and Asia remains . Rosatom Russia's Ministry of Transport to lower the cargo goal to 60 million tons by 2024.
Engineers start to refloat ship stuck in Egypt's Suez Canal
Egyptian authorities said engineers have "successfully started to refloat" the colossal cargo ship that became stuck on the banks of the Suez Canal last week. The so-called Ever Given, a 224,000-ton, 1,300-foot-long container ship registered in Panama, was freed from the shoreline as its course was corrected by 80%. The engineers, who have been trying for days to pull the fully laden vessel with tug boats, are scheduled to resume their efforts later Monday morning as the water level rises to its maximum, "allowing the ship's course to be completely straightened," according to a statement from Egypt's Suez Canal Authority.
While the blockage of the Suez Canal may give Russia's overland transit routes and pipelines, absent the ongoing addition of major energy projects that use the Northern Sea Route and the development of infrastructure to support shipping there, "I don't see the global maritime corridor business case for" the route, Buchanan said.
Climate change, which has had severe effects on the Russia Arctic, alsoabout Moscow's long-term plans in the region.
The geopolitical considerationsare likely to remain strong, however.
Russia's military has spent years refurbishing old facilities in the Arctic and stationing new units there. The Russian Defense Ministryon Monday that the military had "commissioned 791 buildings and structures" in the Arctic since 2013.
NATO countries, wary of Russia's military activity in Arctic, areas well - particularly the US, which shares an Arctic boundary .
In March, the US Coast Guard's top officer said the US and Canada were planning a transit of the Northwest Passage, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Trolls attack Egypt's first female sea captain after Suez Canal ship mishap .
Egypt's first female sea captain says she was skewered on social media although she was working on a ship hundreds of miles from the Ever Given.The controversy comes as the canal authority announced that the backup of ships was finally cleared Saturday, 11 days after the Ever Given became wedged across a narrow section of the canal and six days after the ship was freed.