Suez Canal still blocked, resolution may take “days to weeks”

Thursday, 25 March 2021 17:24:28 (GMT+3)   |   Istanbul

Despite the information circulating late yesterday, March 24, regarding the partial refloating of the Ever Given container ship which had become stuck in the Suez Canal, the canal - one of the main global trade arteries - remains blocked. Moreover, the update late yesterday has proved to be inaccurate and, according to officials, the unblocking of the canal may take “days to weeks”. In that scenario, the negative impact on cargo deliveries, freight rates and the shipping market overall could become alarming. In the meantime, the situation is gradually developing into one of the worst shipping jams seen for years.

According to sources, the 400 m long container carrier Ever Given still remains stuck in Suez Canal, thus blocking the passage for vessels in both directions. It is said that seven to eight tugboats are engaged in the efforts to relocate the vessel with no tangible positive result seen yet. Moreover, some market players familiar with the situation and experienced in shipping operations, have informed media sources that the salvation operation could take “days to weeks.” In particular, it has been stated that a ship this heavy cannot be moved with its massive cargo on board, and so it will first be necessary to remove the containers from the vessel as well as its fuel and water supplies.

Taking into account that Suez Canal handles roughly around 30 percent of global container traffic daily, the situation, if not resolved, could have an increasingly negative impact, specifically on freight rates. It is rumored that some attempts have already been made to increase freight charges. In the meantime, it is believed that some vessels may consider rerouting in order to complete deliveries. In any case, most market players expect freight rate increases as well as a worsening of the situation as regards delays at ports, which has already become tense, and will now be aggravated with vessels coming in out of schedule.

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