Suez Canal block continues: Why that’s important everywhere – CNET

Julianne Cona/Instagram

Following mechanical issues, a Japanese vessel became lodged in the ground under the canal water in 2017. Tugboats refloated the ship within hours. A year prior, the CSCL Indian Ocean spent five days aground before being pulled out by tugboats. 
As the tugboats continue to attempt to extract the ship, Smit Salvage, a renowned maritime rescue company, has been hired to assist.

What’s the latest update?

Shoei Kisen Kaisha, the company that owns the Ever Given, released a statement Thursday apologizing for the issue.

If the canal’s cargo traffic is disrupted, that means delays in everything from oil to food to clothing to semiconductors. Which is why it’s a big deal that a 1,312-foot-long cargo ship called Ever Given has become stuck across the Suez Canal. With the waterway blockage entering its sixth day and attempts to move the cargo ship unsuccessful thus far, the fallout could reverberate around the world. 
Suez Canal Authority

No one on board was injured, according to the ship’s technical manager, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM). But the task of extricating the Ever Given is momentous. The ship is wedged diagonally — as you can see in the above aerial shot — and is longer than the Canal is wide. The ship spans 1,312 feet while the Canal’s width ranges from 205 to 225 feet. 
Ever Given is a 200,000-ton cargo ship that spans a quarter mile, roughly the length of four football fields. You’ll notice “Evergreen” is the written across its body but, confusingly, that’s branding for the Taiwanese company that operates the ship, Evergreen Marine Corp. 
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Brent crude oil, the price of which is used as an international benchmark, rose 2.85% after news of the Ever Given’s plight broke. The rise is tempered by further COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in Europe, which has decreased demand for oil. Local officials hope the issue can be resolved within days, but longer delays would make oil price spikes the beginning of the world’s trouble.

Wait, what happened on Tuesday?

Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis, the company leading the rescue effort, has cautioned that the Ever Given being stuck for weeks is a very real possibility.
new rule: your boat has to be shorter than the Suez Canal is wide
“We are determined to keep on working hard to resolve this situation as soon as possible,” Shoei Kisen Kaisha said. “We would like to apologize to all parties affected by this incident, including the ships traveling and planning to travel through Suez Canal.”  

Planet Labs

“Ship in front of us ran aground while going through the canal and is now stuck sideways,” Julianne Cona wrote on Instagram as she snapped a photo of Ever Given from her own cargo ship, “looks like we might be here for a little bit.”

Egypt’s Suez Canal is one of the world’s most important waterways. Located 75 miles east of Cairo, the capital, it links the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, allowing for direct shipping from Europe to Asia. Roughly 12% of the world’s shipping traffic and a chunk of its oil supply goes through the man-made canal, which has become particularly vital following pandemic-related disruptions to shipping. 
The Ever Given is still very much stuck. After being lodged aground on Tuesday morning, authorities have been working to extract the vessel for days. Time is of the essence here. Experts say a couple days of delay would be a major inconvenience for shipping companies — but a week or more of delays could prove catastrophic and not just for shipping companies.
Over 150 cargo ships are reported to be bottlenecked before the canal. This shot from Planet Labs shows some of the traffic.

Officials at the Suez Canal are hoping the Ever Given is refloated on a timescale closer to the 2017 Japanese vessel than the 2016 CSCL Indian Ocean. 
Planet Labs

What does this mean? 

It’s one of the approximately 150 ships that have amassed in the bottleneck by Thursday. Around 50 ships pass through the Canal each day, according to official statistics. 
Officials from Smit Salvage on Thursday told AP the rescue operation could take “days to weeks,” though Mohab Mamish, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s adviser on seaports and the former chair of the Suez Canal Authority, told the same news agency Thursday that navigation through the canal “will resume again within 48-72 hours, maximum.”  
If the vessel can be righted in two days, Sea-Intelligence vice president of product and operations told Reuters, “the impact will be limited to a gradual worsening of already very bad vessel delays.
CNET Science
Such delays could cause severe shortages, as the global shipping industry is already beset by a lack of shipping containers and other complications arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Oil is particularly vulnerable to the blockage, with the Suez Canal being a key route for transporting oil from the Middle East to Asia and Europe. 
“If the ship were to remain stuck for another week it could cause massive delays in the delivery of products and every second of delay leaves billions of dollars’ worth of disruptions on the line,” said Jennifer Bisceglie, CEO of supply-chain risk management firm Interos. 

Has this happened before?

The Suez Canal Authority, a government organization that runs and maintains the canal, deployed a gang of tugboats on Tuesday to pull the Ever Given out of its predicament, but as of Friday has yet to prove successful.
“The Suez Canal accounts for nearly 30% of all container ship traffic,” explained Interos’ Bisceglie, “with carriers transporting oil, natural gas, clothing, food, electronics, machinery, and even semiconductor chips, an item which has already been in the midst of a global shortage.  
glad i decided to take the panama canal instead of the suez today
“If on the other hand, the Suez Canal remains blocked for another three-to-five days, then this will start to have very serious global ramifications.”

Suez Canal memes are flowing, of course

“The accident is mainly due to the lack of visibility resulting from bad weather conditions as the country passes through a dust storm, with wind speed reaching 40 knots,” Suez Canal Authority head Osama Rabie said in a statement.