Sea traffic through the Suez Canal slowly resumed after rescue teams managed to move the 200,000-ton container ship that had blocked all passage through the crucial waterway for nearly a week.
Aided by the peak of the high tide, a flotilla of tugs managed to tear the bow of the Ever Given skyscraper from the sandy shore of the canal, where it has been housed since last Tuesday.
“We succeeded!” Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis, the rescue company hired to extract Ever Given, said in a statement. “I am delighted to report that our team of experts, working closely with the Suez Canal Authority, have successfully refloated Ever Given, making safe passage through the Suez Canal possible again.”
Flanked by tugs, the ship proceeded cautiously towards the Great Bitter Lake, a large body of water midway between the north and south end of the canal, where it was undergoing a technical examination to see if it was damaged and s ‘it was damaged or not. is sure to make it to its original destination of Rotterdam.
Billions of dollars in delayed goods
About US $ 9 billion (C $ 11.3 billion) in goods normally pass through the canal every day, and the backlog of ships stood at nearly 400 when Ever Given was finally transferred on Monday.
Dozens more had already left the entrance to the canal and are taking the long alternate route around the Cape of Good Hope to the southern tip of Africa – a detour that costs ships hundreds of thousands of dollars in fuel and other expenses.
With the cessation of transits on the canals, Egypt has already lost more than $ 95 million in revenue, according to data company Refinitiv. If the ship is released within the next few days, clearing the backlog of ships waiting to cross the canal would take more than 10 days, Refinitiv said.
Even before the ship was fully freed, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi described the development as a victory in his first comments on the stranded ship.
“The Egyptians have succeeded in ending the crisis,” he wrote on Facebook.
In the village of Amer, which overlooks the canal, locals cheered as the ship moved forward. Many rushed to take a closer look while others mockingly said goodbye to the ship leaving their clover fields.
“Mission accomplished,” said villager Abdalla Ramadan. “The whole world is relieved.”
The price of international benchmark Brent crude fell about 2 percent to just over US $ 63 on the news.
WATCH: Hundreds of ships are lined up behind Ever Given, trying to pass:
The unprecedented shutdown threatened to disrupt oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East and raised fears of prolonged delays, shortages of goods and increased costs for consumers.
It has also sparked new questions about the shipping industry, an on-demand supplier for a world now under pressure from the coronavirus pandemic.
“We went on this fragile, just-in-time expedition that we absolutely saw collapse in the onset of COVID,” said Captain John Konrad, founder and CEO of the expedition news website gcaptain.com. “We used to have big, big warehouses in all the countries where factories pulled their supplies – now those floating ships are the warehouse.
Although the exact cause of the grounding is still unknown, the Ever Given lost power in the middle of a sandstorm last Monday, when it was about four miles north of the entrance. of the canal. It crashed into the east side of the canal as the stern of the ship drifted west and also got stuck in the sand.
Dredges, tugs and other equipment had little chance of moving the colossal ship carrying 20,000 truck-sized shipping containers, until Monday’s high tide turned out to be the boost that rescue teams needed.
As the window for a breakthrough narrows with the retreat of high tide this week, fears have grown that authorities will be forced to lighten the ship by removing the ship’s 20,000 containers – a complex operation requiring specialized equipment that cannot be found. in Egypt that could take days or weeks.