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Egypt demands $1.18bn penalty over Suez Canal blockage

Jessica Yun
·2-min read
STUCK SHIP EVER GIVEN, SUEZ CANAL -- MARCH 29, 2021:  Maxar new high-resolution satellite imagery of the Suez canal and the container ship (EVER GIVEN) that remains stuck in the canal north of the city of Suez, Egypt.  Please use: Satellite image (c) 2020 Maxar Technologies.
Suez canal and the container ship (EVER GIVEN) that remains stuck in the canal north of the city of Suez, Egypt. (Source: Satellite image (c) 2020 Maxar Technologies)

The owner of the world’s most famous cargo vessel, the Ever Given, is now staring down a billion-dollar penalty for blocking one of the most important global trade routes.

The skyscraper-sized container ship quickly caught global attention in late March after it became stuck in the Suez Canal, which provides passage for 10 per cent of global maritime trade, and sparking concerns about a potentially “catastrophic” spike in oil prices and impact on world trade.

Though it was expected to take 'weeks' to dislodge the 'beached whale' ship, it was freed after six days’ worth of efforts to dislodge it, but was then impounded and held in a lake separating the canal.

Egyptian authorities have said the hulking 200,000-tonne container ship won’t be allowed to leave the country until a compensation sum is settled with the ship’s Japanese owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha.

“The vessel is now officially impounded,” Egyptian Lieutenant General Osama Rabie told Egyptian media on Monday evening, local time. “They do not want to pay anything.”

Egyptian judicial official and Egyptian state media have reportedly stated that the canal authority was seeking at least US$900 million, or AU$1.177 billion, which encompasses the costs of backed-up traffic, lost transit fees, and the operation costs of dislodging the ship.

The official, speaking under condition of anonymity, said prosecutors had launched an investigation into why the container ship had run aground in the first place.

The 400-meter long ship was also found to have had an unusual route that appeared to resemble a penis.

–with AP

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