Maritime Traffic Jam Continues To Build Up Outside Blocked Suez Canal

Maritime Traffic Jam Continues To Build Up Outside Blocked Suez Canal.

A maritime traffic jam spiralled to more than 200 vessels on Friday, March 26, outside the Suez Canal as dredgers worked throughout the night in an effort to frantically free a giant container ship stuck in the vital waterway and disrupting global shipping.

The blockage is holding up an estimated $9.6bn (€8.12bn) worth of cargo each day between Asia and Europe, said Lloyd’s List, a shipping data and news company. Efforts to free it could take weeks and can be further complicated by unstable weather, threatening costly delays for companies already dealing with COVID-19 restrictions.

The MV Ever Given, which is longer than four football fields, has been wedged across the entire canal since Tuesday, shutting the crucial shipping lane in both directions. The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said efforts to free the ship by tug had resumed following the completion of dredging operations at its bow to remove 20,000 cubic metres of sand.

“The tugging operations require the availability of a number of supporting factors including wind direction and tides, which makes it a complex technical process,” the authority said.

Smit Salvage, a Dutch firm that has worked on some of the most famous wrecks of recent years, confirmed there would be “two additional tugs” arriving by Sunday to assist in the operation. The Suez Canal Authority said it welcomed international offers of help, including one from the United States, although it did not say exactly what was offered.

Oil prices, meanwhile, rose more than 3 per cent, shipping data on Refinitiv showed.


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Tony Winterburn

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