Suez canal blockage could take days to clear, with shipping delays expected for UK businesses
The cargo ship currently blocking the Suez Canal is holding up traffic that carries nearly £10 billion worth of goods every day, with experts now speculating how the blockage could effect the UK supply chain.
(C) Provided by The i The stuck cargo ship the Ever Given blocking Egypt’s Suez Canal (Photo: Getty/AFP)
A fleet of large tug boats and excavators were employed to try and free the giant container ship, lodged sideways in the Suez Canal after the vessel ran aground earlier this week, causing a traffic jam on one of the world’s busiest waterways. In a statement on Thursday, the Suez Canal Authority said it had officially suspended traffic, while efforts to dislodge the 1,300-foot Ever Given continued. Around 50 ships use the canal route every day to transport manufactured goods from China to Europe, with millions of tonnes of oil and goods accounting for thirteen per cent of world trade.
Richard Meade, editor of maritime publication Lloyd’s List, told i: “Every day of the delay puts even more pressure on the supply chain. “Ships are now stacking up and waiting – there are around 248 vessels sat at anchor, which will have a direct impact in terms of the supply chain and delaying goods. “At the moment, shipping companies are starting to consider whether they could go the long way round, for example re-routing around the Southern tip of Africa, for goods heading to Asia.
That adds at least another seven days, and increases costs in terms of fuel, which impacts freight weight, and insurance premiums. “It’s a very big problem. This is much bigger than a single canal – it’s a major economic choke point.
If it carries on for more than a few days, the reality is that most ships will be re-routed. “In fact, we’ve already seen some ships doing this – the first one turning away was a sister ship of the Ever Green firm, heading to the Seychelles. So they are obviously of the opinion that this will take longer than people anticipate to clear, and not just a day or two.”
Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping added: “The majority of trade between Asia and Europe still relies on the Suez Canal, and given that vital goods including vital medical equipment and PPE, are moving via these ships, we call on the Egyptian authorities to do all they can to reopen the canal as soon as possible.” John Glen, an economist at the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, told the FT that a prolonged shutdown of the canal risked severe disruption to supply chains. “If goods have to be rerouted via Africa due to the blockage this could add as much as 10 days to delivery times for UK businesses.
“If this does happen it will inevitably lead to shortages of goods and inflationary price rises for consumers” he said. Joe Reynolds, chief engineer of the Maersk Ohio – a nearby ship – told the BBC the number of vessels waiting at the canal’s southern entrance was “growing exponentially”. “It’s going to affect shipping schedules around the world,” he warned.
Mr Reynolds told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s just a long waiting game.
There’s not a lot to see…
We are ships sitting at anchor, just waiting as if you were in a traffic jam on the M5.”[feedzy-rss feeds="https://shopmatrix.net/tag/saverdeal/feed/" max="4" feed_title="no" refresh="3_hours" sort="date_desc" multiple_meta="no" target="_self" follow="yes" title="80" meta="no" summary="yes" summarylength="150" thumb="yes" size="80" http="force" lazy="yes" price="yes"]