The owner and insurers of Ever Given, the container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for days, disrupting global shipping, have reached a preliminary agreement with the Suez Canal Authority to release the vessel, according to the British insurance group helping to conduct the negotiations.
The UK’s P&I Club said an agreement in principle had been reached which should allow the vessel to sail. He said he was working with the owner of Ever Given, other insurance companies and SCA to finalize a deal. “Once the formalities are completed, arrangements will be made for the release of the vessel,” he said.
The container ship blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week in March before being dislodged from the banks of the canal. The SCA had requested compensation for the damage to the canal before allowing the vessel to resume its voyage. The insurer, in its press release on Wednesday, did not specify the terms of the preliminary agreement.
Osama Rabie, chairman of the SCA, told state television in April that the agency was demanding payment for the costs of the rescue operation, damage to the canal banks and lost revenue. An Egyptian court ordered the seizure of the ship, demanding around $ 900 million in compensation.
On Wednesday, Mr Rabie said the agency had reached a settlement.
“We are satisfied with the value of the compensation as it preserves our rights and offsets the costs of rescue while allowing us to maintain a friendly relationship with the other party,” he told state media.
The preliminary agreement announced Wednesday provides for compensation of around $ 200 million, according to people close to it. Spokesperson for the vessel’s charterer, Taiwan’s Evergreen Marine Corp.
, the technical director of the vessel, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, and the owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd. from Japan, declined to comment.
Ever Given struck the side of the canal and lodged lengthwise across the crucial waterway, blocking passage in both directions. A global traffic jam ensued, with ships anchoring on either side of the waterway waiting for it to be cleared. Other ships bypassed the canal.
The blockage has added to a series of events that have wreaked havoc on the world’s supply lines. A global shortage of chips has plagued the auto industry. A cold snap in Texas has hit plastic production. Containers, the metal boxes in which shippers pack goods for ocean transport, were already scarce before Ever Given scrambled the meticulous choreography that helps ensure these boxes get where they need to be.
The Ever Given is loaded with goods that are now months behind schedule. Roderick de la Houssaye, owner of Rotterdam-based logistics services company Nedcargo International BV, said one of his onboard containers contained goods, such as hats and t-shirts, for a Formula 1 race in Portugal . This event took place in early May.
“They are now worthless,” he said. Mr de la Houssaye said his customers held more than $ 1 million in merchandise on Ever Given, including children’s swimsuits and other summer clothing destined for the Netherlands. Even if the ship is allowed to resume its voyage in the days that follow, this stock will miss the sales season and will have to be sold at a reduced price, he said.
Jan Unander, managing director of Swedish automotive supplier UNIC AB, also has cargo on board the ship. He thought he had found a solution to replace the deliveries that were stuck on Ever Given. He found a ship in the city of Shenzhen in southern China, one of the busiest ports in the world, that could carry its Chinese-made parts. But the city’s container port was recently hit by a Covid-19 outbreak among dockworkers. This brought the traffic to a virtual standstill. Mr. Unander was forced to redirect his goods to Ningbo, another Chinese port. “I hope to finally ship them next week,” he said.
—Summer Said and Costas Paris contributed to this article.
Write to Benoit Faucon at [email protected]
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