Should I Suez or Should I Go Now?

Image Credit: iStock Images, evrenkalinbacak

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It’s still there, and it might be for weeks. The behemoth cargo ship — the Ever Given — remains grounded in the Suez Canal after getting caught in a sandstorm on Tuesday.

It’s the subject of horror for global trade, but the subject of ever-giving inspiration for creators of online memes.

Moving the 220,000 Tonne Needle

The Ever Given, owned by Taiwan-based Evergreen, is one of the largest cargo ships in the world at 400 meters long and 220,000 tonnes.

Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis — a salvage company working on the rescue — provided insight: “The more secure the ship is, the longer an operation will take.” He added, “the ship with the weight that it has now is impossible to pull…you can forget about that.”

While some salvage experts are optimistic that higher tides may release the vessel if dredgers make progress, others caution a rescue could take “weeks”:

  • In addition to two dredgers already at the site, a specialized “suction dredger” arrived at the site yesterday.
  • Engineers will consider removing fuel oil, ballast water, and even some of the thousands of tonnes of cargo to lighten the ship.

Complicating matters is the remote location of the ship. Berdowski said, “It can take days to weeks. Bringing in all the equipment we need, that’s not around the corner.”

What’s The Hold-up Holding Up?

The Suez is the quickest sea route between Europe and Asia, and more than 10% of the world’s seaborne trade and petroleum shipments goes through it when there’s not a gigantic ship stuck in the sand.

The significance of the economic disruption is materializing quickly:

  • Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, has risen nearly 5% to $63 a barrel since the canal was blocked.
  • The cost of renting tankers for replacement sailing from the Middle East to Asia has gone up 47% in three days.
  • “If goods have to be rerouted via Africa due to the blockage… it will inevitably lead to shortages of goods and inflationary price rises for consumers,” said John Glen, an economist at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply.
the takeaway

At least the meme economy will remain strong for a little while longer.