By Adedapo Adesanya
Global trade faces a major threat as a giant container ship has blocked Egypt’s Suez Canal, one of the world’s busiest trade routes.
The ship, known as Ever Given, after being hit by a strong wind, blocked other vessels from moving in both directions and sparking a traffic jam that could be slowdown world trade.
About 12 per cent of global trade passes through the Suez Canal, which connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and provides the shortest sea link between Asia and Europe.
The Ever Given, registered in Panama, was bound for the port city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands from China and was passing northwards through the canal on its way to the Mediterranean.
At 400 metres long, an equivalent of four football pitches, and 59 metres wide, the 200,000-tonne ship, built in 2018 and operated by Taiwanese transport company Evergreen Marine, ran aground and became lodged sideways across the waterway at about 06:40 Nigerian time on Tuesday.
According to reports, eight tug boats are working to float and unblock the 59-meter-wide (193.5 feet) vessel, which was en route to the port of Rotterdam, after 40-knot winds and a sandstorm caused low visibility and poor navigation, the Suez Canal Authority said in a statement Wednesday.
The Egyptian government says it has reopened the canal’s older channel to divert traffic, amid fears it could remain blocked for days.
Nearly 19,000 ships passed through the canal in 2020, according to the Suez Canal Authority – an average of 51.5 ships per day.
The Suez Canal crosses the Suez isthmus in Egypt. It is 193 kilometres (120 miles) long and incorporates three natural lakes.
In 2015, Egypt’s government opened a major expansion of the canal that deepened the main waterway and provided ships with a 35 kilometres (22 mile) channel parallel to it.
Tankers carrying Saudi, Russian, Omani and US oil are waiting on both ends and this could impact oil prices depend on how long it takes to clear the container ship, sources said.
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