| 7 May 2021, Friday | النسخة العربية

Egypt seizes Ever Given until owners pay $900 million compensation

A megaship which blocked Egypt’s Suez Canal and crippled world trade for almost a week has been “seized” on court orders until the vessel’s owners pay $900 million, mailonline quoted canal authorities as saying on Tuesday.

The MV Ever Given was seized due to its failure to pay $900 million in compensation, Suez Canal Authority chief Osama Rabie was quoted as saying by Al-Ahram newspaper.

The Japanese-owned, Taiwanese operated and Panama flagged ship got diagonally stuck in the narrow but crucial global trade artery in a sandstorm on March 23, setting in motion a mammoth 6-day-long effort by Egyptian personnel and international salvage specialists to dislodge it.

Maritime data company Lloyd’s List said the blockage had held up an estimated $9.6 billion worth of cargo each day between Europe and Asia.

The canal is economically vital to Egypt, which lost between $12 and $15 million in revenues for each day the waterway was shut, according to the canal authority.

The $900 million compensation figure was calculated based on “the losses incurred by the grounded ship as well as the flotation and maintenance costs, according to a court ruling handed down by the Ismailia Economic Court,” Rabie added.

He did not explicitly cite the Japanese owners Shoei Kisen Kaisha, but a different source at the SCA said Tuesday that negotiations over damages between that company, insurance firms and the canal authority were ongoing.

In its court filing, the SCA referred to Articles 59 and 60 of Egypt’s maritime trade law which stipulates that the ship would remain seized until the amount is paid in full, Al-Ahram reported.

The MV Ever Given was moved to unobstructive anchorage in Bitter Lake after it was freed on March 29, and tailbacks totaling 420 vessels at the northern and southern entrances to the canal were cleared in early April.

The Suez Canal earned Egypt just over $5.7 billion in the 2019/20 fiscal year, according to official figures.

On Thursday, the ship’s technical managers, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, said in an email that the ship’s crew was cooperating with authorities in their investigation into what led to the ship running aground.

They said that Suez Canal Authority investigators have been given access to the Voyage Data Recorder, also known as a vessel’s black box.

The news was announced by Rabei in a phone interview with government-run broadcaster Sada Elbalad on March 31.

He said the Canal Authority would demand the $1 billion (£722 million) sum in compensation for the 6-day delay.

It is expected either Japanese company Shoei Kisen Kaisha, who own the Panama-flagged Ever Given, or the Taiwanese firm Evergreen Marine Corp, who had charted the ship, will be responsible for the compensation.

But Evergreen Marine Corp have said the mishap was not their liability and doubt they will be sought for compensation.

The Suez Canal is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world as it creates the shortest distance for ships to cross from the Indian Oceans into the Atlantic taking around 16 hours.