Suez: Billions worth of goods delayed as container ship remains stuck for third day

Credit: AP

A skyscraper-sized container ship remains stuck in Egypt’s Suez Canal, blocking the major trade artery for a third day.

Despite efforts to free the Ever Given, which ran aground on Tuesday, the 220,000-ton, 400-metre-long remains wedged in the man-made canal.

Officials said the ship might not be moved until next week.

The beached boat has caused a huge boat-jams, with at least 150 other vessels, many loaded with valuable oil and natural gas - sitting idle waiting for the obstruction to be cleared, authorities said.

An average of 51.5 ships go through the canal per day.

There is speculation the vast ship's containers may have to be offloaded - a job that could take days and have a serious impact on world trade.

Meanwhile, vessels continue to line up in Port Said in the Mediterranean Sea, Port Suez in the Red Sea while those already stuck in the canal system wait on Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake.

The cargo ships stuck behind the Ever Given in the canal will be reversed south to Port Suez to free the channel.

According to shipping journal Lloyd’s List, each day the Suez Canal is closed disrupts over $9 billion worth of goods transported by ships that rely on the canal to avoid sailing around Africa - a journey that could take up to a month longer.

It is a particularly important route for oil and liquefied natural gas, taking shipments between the Middle East and Europe.

Two men and a bulldozer attempt to free the 220,000-ton Ever Given - and with it the a large chunk of the world's energy supply. Credit: AP

Admiral Osama Rabie, chairman and managing director of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), confirmed on Thursday that navigation through the Suez Canal had been suspended.

Eight large tugboats, the largest of which can tow 160 tonnes, are being used to move the mammoth vessel, the SCA said.

Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping, said the canal carries “about 12% of the world’s goods”.

He added: “To give you some context, that’s 3 billion dollars (£2.2 billion) worth a day, 1.1 trillion dollars (£800 billion) a year, it’s about 18,000 ships use the canal each year, so about 50-plus a day.”

Canal chiefs assess the situation Credit: Suez Canal Authority/AP

Fears the blockage could disrupt shipment for days sparked speculation that oil supply could be put under pressure, sending global energy trading into a frenzy on Wednesday.

The price of Brent crude oil increased by 5.77% to 64.3 dollars per barrel.

Despite the potentially damaging impact on the global energy supply, in true social media style, the wedged ship has lead to numerous memes and humorous quips.

The Ever Given's cargo has been transposed onto a scene in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery when he attempts a three-point turn in a tunnel.