The Ever Given, a massive cargo ship equivalent to the length of four football pitches, has wedged in Egypt’s Suez Canal, the shortest shipping route from Europe to Asia, barring flow of shipping activities.
The Panama-flagged ship which carries over 20,000 twenty-foot containers, ran aground in the narrow canal which divides continental Africa from the Sinai Peninsula, on Tuesday.
A team from Boskalis, a Dutch firm specialised in salvaging, also arrived at the canal to aid rescue operation on Thursday.
Officials in the Dutch firm warned that removing the vessel could take “days to weeks.”
The Suez Canal is one of the world’s most critical commodity choke points, connecting the Red Sea with the Mediterranean.
Images released by the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) showed that the ship is positioned diagonally across the canal.
Vessels which operate on the sea transport different products ranging from oil to consumer goods.
Vortexa, an oil analytics firm, said ten tankers carrying 13 million barrels of crude could be affected.
‘8% OF GLOBAL LNG PASSES THROUGH WATERWAY’
According to data from the US Energy Information Administration, almost 10 percent of total seaborne oil trade and eight percent of global LNG trade passes through the waterway.
The US agency noted that crude producers like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, India, the United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Norway, Kuwait, Libya, and Algeria rely on Suez Canal to export their crude.
The agency did not include Nigeria as one of the countries which export crude oil or receive petroleum products through the waterway.
According to Leth Agencies, canal service provider, the grounding of the 400 meters long (1,300ft), 200,000-tonne vessel has affected over 150 other vessels waiting to pass through the canal.
Osama Rabei, the head of the canal authority, said navigation through the waterway would remain halted until the Ever Given is refloated.
Rescue operation has since commenced to remove the wedged ship and restore normalcy on the canal.
Dredgers, tugboats, and a backhoe have been deployed for use but the giant cargo ship remains stuck on the sea.
SHIP OWNER APOLOGISES
In a statement, Shoei Kisen Kaisha, the ship’s Japanese owner, tendered an apology for the incident, saying efforts are being made to salvage the situation.
“In co-operation with local authorities and Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, a vessel management company, we are trying to refloat (the Ever Given), but we are facing extreme difficulty,” the statement reads.
“We sincerely apologise for causing a great deal of worry to ships in the Suez Canal and those planning to go through the canal.”
This development is the second major crash involving the Ever Given in recent years.
In 2019, the ship ran into a small ferry moored on the Elbe River in the German port city of Hamburg.