CAIRO, (The Southern African Times) – The Suez Canal, one of the world’s most vital shipping routes, was blocked after one of the world’s largest container ships ran aground in the narrow man-made channel early Tuesday, which has disrupted global shipments for days.
Here is a timeline of this global headline-making blockage:
— The Suez Canal was blocked for a fifth day, and the Egyptian authorities are continuing efforts and trying to make new attempts to free the giant vessel and reopen the waterway.
— Yukito Higaki, president of Japanese firm Shoei Kisen Kaisha, owner of the megaship, told a press conference Friday night that there were no signs of damage to the engines and other instruments of the 220,000-ton Ever Given, Japan’s Asahi Shimbun reported. “Once it refloats, it should be able to operate,” Higaki was quoted as saying.
— The president also apologized for blocking the traffic of the waterway and causing tremendous trouble and worry to the people and parties involved.
— The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) expressed gratitude for all the offers of assistance to free the ship, reiterating its keenness to restore maritime traffic in the Suez Canal as soon as possible. In a statement, it also welcomed cooperation with the United States in dislodging the giant cargo ship.
— Oil prices advanced as traders were concerned that the continuing blockage of the Suez Canal could threaten supplies. The West Texas Intermediate for May delivery added 2.41 U.S. dollars to settle at 60.97 dollars a barrel, while Brent crude for May delivery increased 2.62 dollars to close at 64.57 dollars a barrel.
— “If the blockage lasts much longer, however — there is now talk of it taking up to a week to free the ship — we could see local supply bottlenecks,” Carsten Fritsch, energy analyst at Commerzbank Research, said in a note.
— The company Shoei Kisen Kaisha said in a statement that dislodging the giant vessel is “extremely” difficult.
— Toshiaki Fujiwara, an official at Shoei Kisen Kaisha, told media that they “still don’t know how long it will take” to refloat the ship.
— Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, manager of the vessel, said that an earlier attempt to refloat the vessel had failed.
— The SCA said that it has temporarily suspended navigation through the world’s busiest shipping course until the grounded cargo ship is completely freed.
— Nine tug boats, with a towing power of 160 tons, and two dredges are continuing to free the 400-meter-long and 59-meter-wide vessel, the SCA said.
— Osama Rabie, chairman of the SCA, told independent extra news TV that the canal will work around the clock once the salvage and refloating operations are completed, in order to make up for the waiting time of the ships.
— Boskalis, a Dutch firm that specializes in salvaging, arrived at the canal. Chairman Peter Berdowski told Dutch television program “Nieuwsuur” that the ship is like “a very heavy whale on the beach.”
— The SCA said in a statement that it was diverting ships to the canal’s old channel.
— As the blockage has threatened the flow of oil through the waterway, oil prices posted a pronounced rebound.
— Eight tugboats were at work trying to dislodge the vessel.
— The grounded vessel has been partially refloated and is now alongside the Canal bank, said shipping agent GAC on its website at noon, citing information from the SCA.
— Ever Given, a 224,000-ton container ship, was grounded early Tuesday in the new passage of the Suez Canal after being blown off course by a dust storm.
— Egypt was hit by a sand storm with heavy winds that reached up to 40 knots.