The Suez Canal is blocked, after the grounding of one of the largest container ships on the planet, which represents the cut-off of a vital artery of international trade and threatens to disrupt the global transport system for days.
The container ship Ever Given, almost the length of the Empire State, one of New York’s tallest buildings, is crossed at the southern end of the canal. The tugs make frantic efforts to free you.
Taiwan’s Evergreen Marine, which operates the vessel, announced Wednesday (24) that it entered the Suez Canal from the Red Sea at 8 a.m. Tuesday (23) Eastern European Time.
“About six nautical miles [por volta de 11 quilômetros] from the south end of the channel, the vessel allegedly suffered a strong and sudden gust of wind which caused her to deviate from her course and accidentally ran aground, ”Evergreen said in an emailed statement.
Every day, 50 ships cross the 193 kilometers of the Suez Canal, built between 1859 and 1869 to link the Mediterranean with the Red Sea and Asia.
Samir Madani of TankerTrackers, who tracks the tankers, said hours after the blockade there were already 10 million barrels of crude oil and petroleum products stationed near the southern and northern entrances to the canal.
In addition to crude oil flowing from the Middle East to Europe and North America, the canal has become an important route for transporting Russian oil to Asia in recent years.
“The channel is a major bottleneck in world trade,” Madani said. “If they manage to get the ship out quickly, the impact will be minimized, but any prolonged blockade would have serious consequences, affecting oil prices and shipping costs and forcing container ships to take the route much more. long around Africa.
The total flow of oil through the canal and its associated pipeline system, Sumed, accounted for nearly 10% of the oil transported by sea on the planet in 2018, according to the United States Energy Information Administration. About 8% of the planet’s liquefied natural gas trade also passed through the channel that year.
Standard Brent crude oil, the benchmark in the international market, rose about 1% to $ 61.35 a barrel on Wednesday (24) in London. Prices were under pressure this week amid growing concerns over demand caused by new social restrictions adopted in an attempt to tackle the coronavirus in Europe.
The canal is also an essential artery for the transport of consumer goods and raw materials. Almost 50% of the ships that crossed the canal in February were container ships, according to the Suez Canal Authority.
Osama Rabie, director of the Suez Canal Authority, said efforts were being made to overturn the ship, but did not offer a projection of how long it would take to do so.
Brokers and shipping analysts said the blockade threatened to cause delays at European ports for days and exacerbate the scarcity of containers in Asia, leading to skyrocketing freight prices.
“It’s a huge problem, because everything that comes from Asia to Europe goes through there,” said Philip Edge, managing director of Edge Worldwide Logistics, a UK freight company.
The industry is monitoring the situation closely to determine how long it will take to resolve it. The current estimate is at least two days.
“The longer the delay, the worse the situation will be,” said Lars Jensen, Managing Director of Seaintelligence Consulting.
Jensen added that “this risks creating bottlenecks” in European ports next week, as delayed ships will be stopped in ports while other ships arrive, on schedule, from other regions. , and there is also a risk of delays in returning ships. desperately needed containers for China.
There is an even greater risk of mess, as the global shipping system is pushed to its limit, due to the high number of commodity orders caused by the pandemic, at a time when containers are in the wrong place due to service cuts. the first days of the pandemic.
As a result, the cost of transporting goods from Asia to Europe has reached an all-time high in recent months, and global freight is already three times higher than a year ago.
Peter Sand, Bimco’s senior shipping analyst, said there was still no sign of the ships being redirected to the route around the Cape of Good Hope, but he said he is “confident that we will see redirects under the management risk “by shipping companies.”
Ever Given, sailing under a Panamanian flag, was launched in 2018 and is just under 400 meters long, 59 meters wide and was en route to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, according to Marine Traffic, a website that monitors maritime traffic.
A photo of an excavator working to free the ship was posted on Instagram by a sailor who was believed to have been on one of the ships trapped behind Ever Given.
Julianne Cona, who posted the image, is described on LinkedIn as a second engineering assistant, originally from New York.
“The ship in front of us ran aground crossing the canal and is now crossed,” Cona wrote. “Looks like we’re gonna get stuck here for a while.”
Originally translated from English by Paulo Migliacci