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why the release of the stranded container ship looks perilous

The blockage of the Suez Canal, due to the grounding of a huge container ship four days ago, is likely to last: operations to clear the boat have started but look perilous, between unfavorable winds and risk of breakage .

DECRYPTIONFour days of chaos in world trade: since Tuesday evening, a stranded container ship has blocked the Suez Canal and prevented boats from crossing this major maritime axis, causing oil prices to panic. But how long will this situation last? The answer is very vague, while the first clearing operations started are expected to be titanic. An attempt to refloat the ship has already failed on Friday.

Unfavorable winds for the work of tugs

These operations are by nature complex, due to the dimensions of this giant freighter, 400 meters long – more than three football pitches placed end to end – and nearly 220,000 tonnes heavy. But they are also complicated by unfavorable winds, playing against the tugs which try to pull the cargo ship sunk in the sand which borders the channel. The excavators are agitated, but that may not be enough.

On site, the teams are counting a lot on the end of the weekend: that’s when the tide will reach its maximum. However, it will be necessary to be extra vigilant not to break the boat. It may then be necessary to remove some containers, but also the oil from the tanks.

Each hour of blockage costs $ 400 million

And to do this perilous job, every minute counts. About 10% of world trade passes through the Suez Canal, and, according to the maritime magazine Lloyd’s List, each hour of blockage currently costs $ 400 million (nearly € 340 million). No less than 185 ships are already waiting to be able to cross the canal, while the company commissioned for the “rescue” evokes “days, even weeks” before the resumption of traffic.

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