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Suez Canal works to clear the backlog when shipping convoys resume

(Reuters) – The Suez Canal expects 140 ships to pass on Tuesday after a container ship liberated for almost a week made it possible to reopen it, but experts warned that disruptions in global shipping and ports could take months to resolve

The blockade threw global supply chains into disarray and threatened costly delays for companies that already violated COVID-19 restrictions and nearly doubled the prices of oil-producing vessels.

The event is expected to give rise to a stream of insurances. allegations, although the Japanese owner of Ever Given said it had not received any claims or lawsuits over the blockade.

Shipping convoys through the canal resumed Monday night after tugboats towed the 400-foot-long (430-yard) ever-given container conveyor free from the site where it was anchored in high winds on March 23.

"We want to confirm in a clear message to the world that everything is back as it was," Egyptian President Abdel Fatt ah al-Sisi told reporters on Tuesday from a platform by the canal as container ships passed behind him.

Ever Given's grounding over a southern part of the canal forced a halt to all traffic, leading to a build-up of 422 vessels at each end of the canal and along its course.

Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority Osama Rabie said that 95 ships would pass at 1

900 local time (1700 GMT) on Tuesday and another 45 at midnight, confirming that he hoped the building would be cleaned up in three to four days.

"We will work day and night and if God wants us to get it done in the shortest possible time," Rabie said.

Knock-on effects on global shipping and ports can take much longer to resolve.

Although the construction around the Suez Canal can be cleared in four to five days, it can take several months to deal with backlogs in ports, Jan Hoffmann, a UNCTAD logistics expert, told a briefing.

The shipping group Maersk has also said that disruptions to international shipping can last for months.

About 15% of global shipping traffic moves through the canal. The estimated value of the cargo held up by the closure was $ 89 billion, Hoffmann said.

Mr. Sisi said that Ever Gif's grounding had drawn attention to the importance of the waterway, which is the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.

"We did not hope for anything like that, but fate did its work. It showed and confirmed the channel's reality and significance ", said Sisi when he visited staff during a visit to the Suez Canal Authority in Ismailia.

"In light of all the talk about alternatives and things like that – no, this is a global facility for international trade. ”

Mr. Rabie has said that SCA will look at giving discounts to shippers affected by the stop.

"We have to study it properly because the number of ships is large, including ships waiting one day, ships waiting two days and ships waiting three days or four days – not everyone will take the same percentages," he told a news conference late on Monday.

He also said that the canal strengthened its technical capacity by bringing in more tugs and dredgers.

Mr Rabie has suggested that weather and human error would have played a role in to found Ever given.

On Tuesday, investigators boarded the ship, which is located in a lake that separates two parts of the canal, according to a canal source and a freight agent who did not provide further information.

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