Egypt’s Suez Canal has been blocked by a massive container vessel, which ran aground the key waterway, and cause delays in global shipments of commodities.
The vessel “Ever Given” got stuck in the southern end of the canal while making a turn on Tuesday. The vessel is still stuck in the canal, which provides the shortest marine route between Europe and Asia. Several tugboats have been deployed to help shift the container ship but didn’t succeed so far. “Ever Given” is 400-metre long and 59-metre wide container ship with a total carrying capacity of around 200.000 tons. The container ship has blocked off a lot of other vessels and tankers from traversing in either direction. The canal is a critical chokepoint because of the large volumes of energy commodities that flow through it.
It is still not clear how long it will take to free “Ever Given” from the spot. Ships heading both ways and shipment through the canal will be badly affected by the bottlenecks. “Ever Given” is carrying containers bound for Rotterdam in the Netherlands from China.
The good news is that carriers can show their skills in the requested higher level of information services. I received a mail the day after!
The bad news is, this won’t be the last time a vessel, with an immense loading capacity, will run into trouble. Shippers are looking for alternatives more and more. For example using the silk road, using the multi modal rail option.
Faster, greener and more reliable container rail services between China and Europe are at the moment also more cost-efficient than the all-water alternative. Urgent container capacity shortages and intense sea freight rate inflation are giving an extra push to rail cargo service links between China and Europe. The traffic recently increased with 10-15% in loads moving overland between China and Europe. With transit times between 16-18 days comparing to around 35 days for Shanghai-Rotterdam 40ft high-cube container moves by sea, speed is certainly a key advantage for rail.
Another alternative you might see at the bigger companies chartering their own ships. Smaller, still expensive but more agile and reliable.