An Aladdin cave of goods ranging from IKEA furniture to tens of thousands of cattle is stuck in a shipping traffic jam caused by the blockage of the Suez Canal.
More than 360 ships have been stranded in the Mediterranean to the north and the Red Sea at the other end as well as in waiting areas since the giant container ship MV Ever Given was stuck diagonally on the Suez on Tuesday, a lifeline for world trade.
Industry experts have estimated the total value of goods stranded at sea to be between $ 3 billion and $ 9.6 billion.
According to Paola Rodriguez Masiu of Rystad Energy, around 1.74 million barrels of oil per day normally pass through the canal, but 80% of the Gulf’s exports to Europe go through the Sumed pipeline that crosses Egypt.
According to MarineTraffic, a hundred ships loaded with oil or refined products were in the waiting areas on Sunday.
Crude prices exploded on Wednesday in response to the Suez blockade before dropping the next day.
Syria, hit by sanctions, however announced on Saturday a new round of fuel rationing after the hold-up delayed a shipment of petroleum products from allied Iran.
– ‘Adds to the volatile situation’ –
In addition to goods, some 130,000 head of cattle on 11 ships sent from Romania were also stranded.
“My biggest fear is that the animals will run out of food and water and get stuck on ships because they cannot be unloaded elsewhere for paperwork reasons,” said Gerit Weidinger, European coordinator of the NGO Animals International, to the British newspaper The Guardian.
Egypt, for its part, sent fodder and three teams of veterinarians to examine the cattle stranded at sea, some bound for Jordan.
Swedish IKEA said it had 110 containers on the Ever Given and other ships in the stack.
“The blockade of the Suez Canal is a further constraint to an already difficult and volatile situation for global supply chains caused by the pandemic,” an IKEA spokesperson said.
The Rotterdam-based Van Rees group said 80 containers of tea were trapped at sea on 15 ships and said there could be “chaos” for the company as supplies dry up.
Dave Hinton, owner of a lumber business in North West England, said he had a batch of French oak stuck on a ship.
The oak had been sent from France to be reprocessed as veneer flooring in China, and was on its way back to a customer in Britain, Hinton said.
“I spoke to my client and told him the bad news that his floor was blocking the Suez Canal. He didn’t believe me, he thought I was pulling his leg, ”he told BBC radio on Friday.
Shipping giants such as the Danish Maersk have rerouted ships on the long voyage around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, adding at least seven days to the journey time.
Even though the Donne Ever was dislodged, Maersk estimated on Saturday that it would take between three and six days for the stranded ships to cross the canal.
The company said 32 Maersk and partner ships would be directly affected by the end of the weekend, with 15 rerouted, and the number could increase unless the canal is reopened.
According to Lloyd’s List, up to 90% of the affected cargo is not insured against delays.
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© 2021 AFP