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World

Stranded Suez Canal ship re-floated, undergoing checks: sources

  • The 400-metre (430-yard) long Ever Given has been straightened in the canal and will undergo initial inspections before being moved, two sources said.
Updated 30 Mar, 2021

CAIRO (Reuters) - The stranded container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week was almost fully re-floated on Monday and has restarted its engines, a shipping source with knowledge of the matter said, raising hopes the busy waterway will soon be reopened.

The MV Ever Given, longer than four football fields, has been wedged diagonally across the canal since Tuesday, towering over nearby palm trees and strangling world supply chains.

The 400-metre (430-yard) long Ever Given has been straightened in the canal and will undergo initial inspections before being moved, two sources said.

Video posted on social media appeared to show the ship’s stern had swung around, opening space in the canal. Other footage, which could not be immediately verified by Reuters, included cheering and ships’ horns sounding in celebration.

Ship-tracking service VesselFinder has changed the ship’s status to under way on its website.

At least 369 vessels were waiting to transit the canal, including dozens of container ships, bulk carriers, oil tankers and liquefied natural gas (LNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vessels, SCA Chairman Osama Rabie told Egypt’s Extra News on Sunday.

Earlier on Monday, marine services firm Inchcape Shipping Services said the ship had been successfully re-floated at 4.30 am local time (0230 GMT) and was being secured.

The ship’s technical manager Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

Egypt’s Leth Agencies tweeted the ship had been partially refloated, pending official confirmation from the Suez Canal Authority (SCA).

The Suez Canal salvage teams intensified excavation and dredging on Sunday and were hoping a high tide would help them dislodge the ship.

Crude oil prices fell after news the ship had been re-floated, with Brent crude down by $1 per barrel to $63.67. Shares of Taiwan-listed Evergreen Marine Corp - the vessel’s lessor - rose 3.3%.

About 15% of world shipping traffic transits the Suez Canal, which is a key source of foreign currency revenue for Egypt. The current stoppage is costing the canal $14-$15 million a day.

Shipping rates for oil product tankers nearly doubled after the ship became stranded, and the blockage has disrupted global supply chains, threatening costly delays for companies already dealing with COVID-19 restrictions.

Some shippers had decided to reroute their cargoes around the Cape of Good Hope, adding about two weeks to journeys and extra fuel costs.

A note from A.P. Moeller Maersk seen by Reuters said it had so far redirected 15 vessels around the Cape after calculating that the journey would be equal to the current delay of sailing to Suez and queuing.

The SCA has said it can accelerate convoys through the canal once the Ever Given is freed.

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