Ever Given ship sets sail

Free at last! Ever Given ship sets sail 

Remember the container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for several days?  It has now been freed after the owners agreed to a multi-million dollar compensation agreement with the Egyptian authorities - securing its release. This ended a month-long saga that snarled transport passage through this critical global maritime route.

The owners of the MS Ever Given sealed the deal early Wednesday at the Ismailia headquarters allowing the owners to exit the canal. No exact details of the agreement were provided by the SCA. Finally, after 106 days, the ship sailed to the Mediterranean Sea.

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Aljazeera reported that shipowner Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd disclosed that the vessel will undergo a dive survey in Egypt’s Port Said before proceeding to the next port of discharge. The release was brought about by lifting a judicial seizure after receiving notification from a settlement with vessel insurers and owners.

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To mark an end to the unfortunate incident that froze global shipping along the Suez, a small ceremony that was broadcast live on Egyptian TV was held marking the ships’ departure at the port of Ismailia and attended by foreign diplomats. 

In March, the ship ground to a halt in what was described as the ‘World’s heaviest traffic jam’. This prompted round-the-clock efforts to have it dislodged and it took a week before the Suez strait could resume operations. 

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The Suez Strait handles 12% of global shipping including a million barrels of oil and 8% of the global LNG made its way past the canal every day. BBC reported that the canal was taking revenue hits of $14m to $15m each day the blockade continued. This was according to the SCA chairman Osama Rabie.

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Moody's, the global credit rating agency, disclosed that trade passing through the Suez Canal before the pandemic contributed to 2% of the country’s GDP. German insurer Allianz gave a risk management perspective on the impact of the blockage on global trade in a week. First, the Suez Canal is regarded as the best possible route for ships traveling from Asia to Europe. An alternative journey across the Cape of Good Hope (COGH) means an extra 5,000 nautical miles added onto a journey from the Middle East to Europe - not to mention the cost implications. This results in greater fuel consumption and a longer voyage (10-15 days). The only upside to the COGH voyage is the savings made on the Suez Canal fees. 

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In 2020, close to 19,000 ships passed through the Suez Canal, this is an average of 51.5 ships every day. The Suez Canal was first opened as a waterway in 1869. In 2015 the canal was expanded to a 22-mile parallel channel. 

The Ever Given was a 400-meter vessel with a load capacity of 18,300 containers. It was on its way to the Dutch port of Rotterdam before the incident occurred. This ship’s bow touched the canal’s eastern wall before the stern lodged itself.