Suez Canal steps up efforts to remove blockage as shipping rates surge, tankers diverted away

CAIRO (Reuters) – The Suez Canal stepped up efforts on Friday to free a giant stuck container ship and end a blockage that has sent shipping rates for fuel tankers soaring and disrupted global supply chains for everything from grains to baby clothes. Shipping rates for oil product tankers have nearly doubled after the 400-metre (430-yard) long Ever Given ran aground in the vital trade waterway on Tuesday. Efforts to free it may take weeks and be complicated by unstable weather conditions, threatening costly delays for companies already dealing with COVID-19 restrictions. Shoei Kisen, Ever Given’s Japanese owner, denied a news report that it aimed to dislodge it by Saturday night, saying refloating efforts were ongoing. The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said efforts to free the ship by tug would resume as soon as dredging operations at its bow to remove 20,000 cubic metres of sand are complete. “In addition to the dredgers already on site a specialised suction dredger is now with the vessel and will shortly begin work. This dredger can shift 2,000 cubic metres of material every hour,” said Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, the Ever Given’s technical manager. The SCA said it welcomed a U.S. offer to help.… continue reading

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