Storm grounds 200,000 tonne ship – blocks Suez Canal – halts 12% global trade

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A container ship like a “beached whale” has blocked transit in both directions through one of the world’s busiest shipping channels for oil and grain and other trade linking Asia and Europe, reported Reuters. 

The 400 m long Ever Given has halted all ships entering the Suez Canal channel and the salvage company told the agency that it may take weeks to free. The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said eight tugs were working to move the vessel, which got stuck diagonally across the single-lane southern stretch of the canal on Tuesday morning amid high winds and a dust storm.

“We can’t exclude it might take weeks, depending on the situation,” Peter Berdowski, CEO of Dutch company Boskalis told the Dutch television programme “Nieuwsuur”.

Several dozen vessels, including other large container ships, tankers carrying oil and gas, and bulk vessels hauling grain have backed up at either end of the canal to create one of the worst shipping jams seen for years.

Roughly 30 percent of the world’s shipping container volume transits through the 193 kilometers Suez Canal daily, and about 12 percent of total global trade of all goods.

Shipping experts say that if the blockage is unlikely to be cleared in the coming days, some shipping firms may re-route vessels around the southern tip of Africa, which would add roughly a week to the journey.

The load of the tankers amounted to 870,000 tonnes of crude and 670,000 tonnes of clean oil products such as gasoline, naphtha and diesel, it said.

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