Mar 25, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Rescuers say container ship stuck in Suez could take weeks to unblock

A satelitte image of the ship stuck in the suez canal
Satellite photo: European Space Agency Copernicus Sentinel-2 Satellite/Maxar Technologies via Reuters

A skyscraper-sized container ship wedged in the Suez Canal could take weeks to unblock, wreaking further havoc on global oil markets and trade, the Financial Times reports.

Background: The 220,000-ton and quarter-mile-long Ever Given container ship, one of the largest in the world, has been stuck in the canal since it was caught in poor visibility and high winds from a sandstorm Tuesday as it was headed from China to the Netherlands.

  • “The more secure the ship is, the longer an operation will take,” said Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis, a company involved in the rescue, according to FT. “It can take days to weeks. Bringing in all the equipment we need, that’s not around the corner.”
  • SMIT Salvage BV, an elite ship dislodging company, and Japan's Nippon Salvage Co. have also been tapped for the rescue effort, according to Bloomberg. The rescuers may have to lighten the ship by removing fuel or water meant to keep it steady while at sea.

Why it matters: The Suez Canal accounts for approximately 30% of container shipping volumes, and blocking it even for a short amount of time will cause oil prices to rise.

  • About 100 ships are stuck in the canal waiting to pass through, carrying cargo worth almost $10 billion in oil and consumer goods.
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