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EXCLUSIVE | Suez Canal operations may restart today, ship to be fully floated in 5 hours

Around 18,829 ships passed through the canal carrying around 1.17 billion tonnes of cargo.

March 29, 2021 / 01:57 PM IST
(Image: AP)

(Image: AP)

Putting an end to the six-day blockage, the operations in Suez Canal may restart by the end of the day and 369 ships that are stuck on both sides of the canal will be cleared as soon as possible, a senior official of a transit service provider in the region told Moneycontrol.

“Within five hours’ time, the container ship will be completely floated. We expect to start operations in Suez Canal by the end of the day (March 29),” said a senior official of Wilhelmsen Ships Service that manages transit operations in Suez Canal. He added that on both sides of the canal, ships carrying various cargoes including containers, chemicals, crude, and livestock are stuck now.

Moneycontrol was the first to report on Saturday that the mega container ship Ever Given that ran ground after losing control was partly refloated. The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has already lined up a transit plan too to clear the maritime traffic jam caused due to the blockage.

“There is a portion called vessel rudder (a device used for steering and manoeuvring a vessel), that has been made free. The front portion is still stuck, but a higher-than-usual spring tide is expected to automatically lift the ship today or tomorrow. After that, within three to four days, the stuck ships will be cleared,” said Anil Devli, chief executive officer of the Indian National Shipowner's Association (INSA).

In 2020, a total of around 18,829 ships passed through the canal carrying around 1.17 billion tonnes of cargo. Devli added that clearing the traffic may not be a huge issue as the canal handles around 51.5 ships per day.

The Ever Given, a 224,000-ton vessel, ran aground in the Egyptian canal on March 23. Egyptian authorities had been working non-stop to refloat the ship using tug boats, sand dredges and with the help of salvage companies. SCA had lined up a detailed plan to clear the traffic jam by clearing vessels stuck at Great Bitter Lake, Port Said and Suez Port on a ‘first-come-first-serve’ basis.

A day's blockade in the Suez Canal may lead to a severe financial impact on global trade as the route between Asia and Europe around Africa is a week slower. The situation may also result in a shortage of container vessels and boxes, as close to 30 percent of the global container traffic is passing through the Suez Canal. Devli added that Indian ships that were coming through the Atlantic route were already diverted to the African route.

Osama Rabie, head of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), had told the media that once the ship is withdrawn, SCA will resume navigation directly.

Shine Jacob