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the shipowner hopes for a release on Saturday evening

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                A significant high tide forecast for Sunday could be "of great help" in unblocking the container ship which has been blocking the Suez Canal since Tuesday, stranding more than 200 ships in one of the busiest waterways in the world.

                                    <p>The Suez Canal unblocked earlier than expected?  The owner of the container ship which has been blocking the Suez Canal in Egypt since Tuesday, March 23, said he was hopeful that the ship would be unblocked on the evening of Saturday March 27, when days or even weeks had previously been mentioned.

“We are in the process of removing the sediment, with additional dredging tools,” Yukito Higaki, president of the Japanese company Shoei Kisen, told a press conference on Friday, reported to the Japanese press on Saturday. He said he hoped for the release of Ever Given for “tomorrow (Saturday) evening”, that is to say in the night from Saturday to Sunday in Japan.

“The ship is not taking on water. There is no problem with its rudders and propellers. Once it has been refloated it should be able to function,” added the officer.

The company commissioned for the “rescue” of the Ever Given had previously been more cautious, evoking “days or even weeks” to ensure the unblocking of the ship and the resumption of traffic on the canal which sees 10% of the trade pass. international shipping, according to experts.

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Since Wednesday, the Egyptian Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has been trying to clear this vessel weighing more than 220,000 tons and the length of four football fields, stuck in the south of the canal, a few kilometers from the city of Suez.

An operation carried out by SCA on Friday with the help of tugs “was unsuccessful,” said Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), a Singapore-based company which provides technical management of the vessel. “Two additional (Egyptian) tugs of 220 to 240 tonnes” are due to arrive by Sunday for a new attempt, according to the company.

A high tide “of great help” to unblock the ship

The incident on Tuesday and caused by high winds combined with a sandstorm, according to various sources, resulted in massive traffic jams. According to the specialist magazine Lloyd’s List, more than 200 ships were stranded on Friday at both ends and in the waiting area in the middle of the canal, causing significant delays in deliveries of oil and other products, with a brief repercussion on the price of black gold Wednesday.

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According to Lloyd’s list, the stranded container ship blocks the equivalent of around $ 9.6 billion (€ 8.1 billion) in cargo every day.

Shipping giant Maersk and Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd said on Thursday they plan to divert their ships and pass through the Cape of Good Hope, a 9,000-kilometer detour and at least seven additional days around the mainland African.

In a statement, Admiral Ossama Rabie, president of the SCA, explained Friday evening that “towing maneuvers require the conjuncture of several factors (…) the most important of which is the direction of the winds and tides”, speaking of “complex technical process”. A significant high tide forecast “Sunday evening” could “be of great help” for technical teams seeking to unblock the vessel, Plamen Natzkoff, expert at VesselsValue told AFP. “If they do not manage to unlock it during this high tide, the next one will not take place for two weeks, and it will become problematic,” he told AFP.

The Ever Given “is not only stranded on the surface sand, it is also stuck inside the bank”, according to Plamen Natzkoff. “We will have to dig where the boat entered the bank, in order to allow it to move again. And it is clearly a big job,” he said.

Excavators began digging the bank on Wednesday and dredges to suck sand from under the ship on Friday, to make the tugboats’ work easier. The company that operates the vessel, Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine Corp, approached the Dutch company Smit Salvage and the Japanese company Nippon Salvage to put in place “a more effective (rescue) plan” than the one implemented so far. so. The first experts arrived on Thursday.

Nearly 19,000 ships used the canal in 2020, according to the SCA, an average of 51.5 ships per day. According to a report by insurer Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty on maritime safety, “the Suez Canal has an excellent overall safety record with shipping incidents being extremely rare – in total, 75 shipping incidents were reported in the past decade “.

With AFP


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