Cheniere and Shell tankers change course to avoid traffic jams as tankers divert their route

Cheniere and Shell tankers change course to avoid traffic jams as tankers divert their route

A dredger attempts to free the stranded container ship Ever Given, one of the world’s largest container ships, after it ran aground in the Suez Canal, Egypt on March 26, 2021.
Suez Canal Authority | Reuters
According to data provided by MarineTraffic and ClipperData, companies are scrambling to redirect ships to avoid congestion at the Suez Canal, including at least two US ships carrying natural gas for Cheniere and Shell / BG Group.
At least ten tankers and container ships change course as Ever Given, one of the world’s largest container ships, remains stranded across the canal alongside Egypt, the carrier said. – MarineTraffic’s Georgios Hatzimanolis spoke to CNBC in an interview.

“We expect that number to increase as this closure progresses,” Hatzimanolis said.

The 1,300-foot vessel ran aground on Tuesday en route from Malaysia to the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The stranded ship backed up other ships in the canal, carrying around $ 400 million in cargo per hour, according to Lloyd’s List shipping log. This has slowly increased in the last few days after Egypt’s repeated efforts to refloat the 247,000-ton container ship failed. Officials are using eight large tugs and excavation equipment on the banks of the canal to dig sand around the stranded ship.

According to MarineTraffic, 97 vessels are stranded in the upper part of the canal, 23 vessels waiting in the middle and 108 vessels in the lower part. The traffic jam stretches across the Red Sea, beyond the Gulf of Aden, to the border of Yemen and Oman.

“From Asia to Europe, we see ships diverting into the Indian Ocean, just below the southern tip of Sri Lanka,” Hatzimanolis added. For ships to Europe from Asia, circling Africa instead of going through the canal can add up to seven days to a ship’s journey, he said.

LNG tanker Maran Gas Andros left Ingleside, Texas on March 19 loaded with Cheniere fuel and a capacity to carry 170,000 cubic meters of liquefied natural gas. The LNG tanker Pan Americas, which carries Shell / BG fuel, departed Sabine Pass on March 17 and can carry up to 174,000 cubic meters of liquefied natural gas. Matt Smith, director of commodity research for ClipperData, confirmed which companies are using the vessels.
The two tankers changed course in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean before diverting to bypass Cape Town.
ClipperData also shows the Suezmax Marlin Santorini loaded with 700,000 barrels of Midland West Texas Intermediate crude oil diverting from the canal. Smith said the original route to Suez was an “unusual diversion”.

“The vast majority of US crude exports bypass the Suez Canal, heading either to Europe or around the Cape of Good Hope to Asia,” Smith explained. The Suezmax Marlin was at Magellan’s Seabrook Terminal in Houston, Texas on March 10, where it was topped up with 330,000 barrels of West Texas light crude oil before heading to the Galveston lightening area a day later.

The ship then left the United States for Port Said in northeast Egypt, but turned south on Thursday after passing the Azores Islands near Portugal. “The ship has yet to update its declared destination,” Smith said.

ClipperData shows the number of fully loaded tankers waiting off Port Said and the US Gulf of Mexico coast. On Friday afternoon, two more tankers and a Suezmax, the largest tanker capable of navigating the Suez Canal, carrying vacuum gas oil from the United States, were passing through Crete and preparing to drop anchor at off Egypt.

Another ship, the container ship HMM Rotterdam, turned from the canal just before entering the Strait of Gibraltar, changing course to circle Africa.

Peter Sand, chief navigation analyst at BIMCO, said the diversion pattern is similar among other vessels.

“We are not only seeing container ships redirecting back and forth, but also LNG and bulk carriers from the United States from the Gulf of Mexico,” Sand said. “The ships take a sharp right turn in the middle of the Atlantic to head south towards the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the traffic jam around Suez. ”

Kevin Book, managing director of ClearView Energy Partners, said that while a long Suez outage introduces latency into the supply system, for liquefied natural gas, the length of the delay depends on where the vessel started, where it is heading and where in the journey it has changed course. .

“For US Gulf exporters, circling the Horn only adds three days or less at sea to the port of Tokyo,” Book said. “For cargoes from Doha in northwestern Europe, this route could veer ten days before the trip. ”

Goods originating in the Gulf of Mexico and stranded in the Mediterranean may face a diversion of ten days instead of three, he said.

At the time of publication, Cheniere and Shell / BG have responded to CNBC’s request for comment.

The MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company said 11 of its ships were being diverted, 19 ships were anchored on either side of the canal and two ships were turned back on Friday afternoon.

The blockade of the Suez Canal is one of the “biggest disruptions to world trade in recent years,” MSC senior vice president Caroline Becquart said on Saturday.

“We expect the second quarter of 2021 to be more disrupted than the first three months, and maybe even more difficult than it was at the end of last year,” she said. “Businesses should expect that the Suez lockdown will result in restriction of shipping capacity and equipment and, consequently, some deterioration in supply chain reliability issues over the next few months. ”


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