Specialized Dredger, Salvaging Team Arrive on Site: Suez Update

Commercial cargo and container ships ride anchor while waiting to transit the Suez Canal in Ismailia, Egypt, on March 25. Photographer: Islam Safwat/Bloomberg

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By Jack Wittels, Salma El Wardany and Sergio Chapa
Mar 25, 2021, 8:10 PM – Updated on Mar 25, 2021, 10:14 PM
Word Count: 881
A specialized suction dredger and a vessel salvaging team from Smit Salvage arrived onsite to seek to re-float the giant Ever Given container ship that went aground and blocked the Suez Canal.

The focus now is on dredging to remove sand and mud from around the vessel’s bow, according to a statement from the ship’s manager, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement.

Meanwhile, a vessel managed by Synergy Marine is veering away from the canal to take the longer route around Africa, and A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S and Hapag-Lloyd AG are considering it. Two liquefied natural gas tankers loaded at Cheniere Energy Inc.’s plants appear to be diverting from the Suez Canal, according to ship-tracking data on Bloomberg.

The blocking of the waterway is creating another setback for global supply chains already strained by the e-commerce boom linked to the pandemic. About 12% of global trade goes through the canal that’s so strategic world powers have fought over it.

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Key Highlights:
238 vessels were queued up Thursday, up from 186 Wednesday, according to Bloomberg data
Ever Given has not moved and operations to re-float were still ongoing earlier in the afternoon, according to Inchcape Shipping Services
All time stamps London

Two U.S. LNG Vessels Appear to Turn Away From Canal (7:01 p.m.)
Two liquefied natural gas tankers loaded at Cheniere Energy Inc.’s plants appear to be diverting from the Suez Canal, according to ship-tracking data on Bloomberg.

The Maran Gas Andros changed course in the mid-Atlantic earlier Thursday and appears to be heading toward the Cape of Good Hope, a longer route to Asian markets. Another vessel, Pan Americas, changed direction on Wednesday on what appeared to be the same route.

Blockage Forces Ships to Look at Trip Around Africa (6:24 p.m.)
Container carriers and other vessels are weighing costly and time-consuming voyages around Africa that threaten to destabilize the already fragile underpinnings of global trade.

A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S and Hapag-Lloyd AG are considering sending ships around Africa to avoid gridlock in the waterway, moves that would follow a Synergy Marine-managed ship that is being sent around the Cape of Good Hope. Torm A/S, a Danish owner of tankers, said its customers have asked about the cost of options to divert.

Canal Traffic Jam Has Doubled to 238 Ships (5:37 p.m.)
The number of ships waiting to enter the Suez Canal is growing as the waterway remains blocked.

Data compiled by Bloomberg shows there were 238 vessels queued up Thursday, compared with 186 counted on Wednesday and around 100 at the start of the blockage.

The Queue of Ships at The Suez Canal Is Growing
Container Ship Diverting to Avoid Canal, Synergy Marine Says (5:23 p.m.)
A container ship is being diverted around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope to avoid the blocked Suez Canal, according to Rajesh Unni, a captain and chief executive officer of Synergy Marine.

Eight of more than 375 ships managed by Synergy Marine are caught up in the Suez Canal traffic jam. That includes a 20,000 TEU Ultra Large Container Vessel, or ULCV, three other large container ships, one Very Large Gas carrier, one chemical tanker and two bulk carriers.

“The longer the Canal is closed, the larger the queue of vessels that will be caught up in jams and the bigger the losses for shipping and, ultimately, consumers of the goods which we transport,” Unni siad.

Tanker Rates Climb Higher as Blockage Rumbles On (5:03 p.m.)
Rates for very large crude carriers, or VLCCs, hauling oil from the Middle East to China rose to $1,371 a day, registering a profit for only the second day in over seven weeks, according to the Baltic Exchange.

The canal blockage “is having more of an impact on the Suezmax sector where rates are starting to rise and where a lengthy blockage will more quickly affect vessel supply balances,” said Claire Grierson, senior director of tanker research at SSY.

Russia Gas Exports to Benefit From Blockage (4:32 p.m.)
Russia natural gas supplies via pipeline could provide Europe with some flexibility as LNG imports from the Middle East are affected by the blockage at the Suez Canal, consulting firm Rystad said in a note.

The U.S. could also benefit as shipments from its LNG export terminals could reach Europe much quicker than vessel going around Africa from the Middle East.

“It could be a perfect opportunity for U.S. producers to secure some orders at a time of such a transport route crisis,” Rystad said.

Not Much Room to Maneuver (3:39 p.m.)
It’s no wonder the stuck Ever Given in the Suez Canal is creating such a headache.

The key trade route is narrow — less than 675 feet wide (205 meters) in some places — and can be difficult to navigate. Work to re-float the giant container ship — about a quarter mile long (400 meters) — and allow passage for oceangoing carriers hauling almost $10 billion of everything from commodities to consumer goods continued without success on Thursday in Egypt.

The blockage highlights a major risk faced by the shipping industry as more and more vessels, which are getting bigger and bigger, transit maritime choke points including the Suez, Panama Canal and the Strait of Hormuz.

Tight Fit
–With assistance from Alex Longley, Julian Lee, Anthony Di Paola, Javier Blas, Sergio Chapa, Robert Tuttle, Aaron Clark, Mirette Magdy, Fred Pals, Yvonne Yue Li, Lucia Kassai and Elaine He.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.


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