A freighter flying the Panamanian flag ran aground in the Suez Canal on Wednesday night and has since blocked the important shipping route between Asia and Europe. Several tug boats are in use around the freighter, as can be seen on the ship finder.com and marinetraffic.com radars.
The waterway connects the Mediterranean with the Red Sea. Dozens of container ships congested both north and south of the canal. A significant part of the energy transport from the Middle East to Europe and the USA runs through the canal. Deliveries from the North Sea to Asia are also affected in the opposite direction.
The incident occurred on Tuesday, the shipping and logistics company GAC announced on its website. There was a power failure on board the freighter.
According to the ship’s radars, it is the freighter “Ever Given”. According to vesselfinder.com, it is 400 meters long and 59 meters wide. The ship, built in 2018, came from China and is on its way to Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
It is still unclear when the shipping route can be opened again. A notification from the sewer authorities is not yet available.
Oil prices are rising
The traffic jam has an impact on oil prices. These rose on Wednesday. In the morning, a barrel (159 liters) of Brent North Sea oil cost $ 61.63. That was 84 cents more than the day before. The price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) branded American crude rose 62 cents to $ 58.38.
On Tuesday, oil prices had fallen significantly, to their lowest level since the beginning of February. The main reason was concerns about the demand for crude oil due to rising corona infections and new restrictions, especially in Europe. Both are weighing on the economic outlook. However, supply concerns outweighed the issue on Wednesday.
From one-way to two-way traffic
The Suez Canal is 163 kilometers long and was built almost 150 years ago. It saves having to bypass Africa on the route from Europe to Asia. A large part of the goods between the two economic areas as well as the oil from the Arab states to Europe is transported via the canal.
A new section of the canal was opened in 2015. This made it possible for a convoy to go in both directions every day. Both convoys can pass through the now parallel canal sections without stopping.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had collected the money for his project of the century from the Egyptians, exclusively. Ten pounds was the smallest denomination of the share certificates, 1.15 euros, so that not only the upper class could subscribe. In eight days, the National Bank had the necessary $ 8.4 billion. Perhaps, in addition to patriotism, the twelve percent interest contributed to it.
Nothing is as closely intertwined with the nation’s identity as the Suez Canal. Almost every Egyptian knows the story – more precisely: the Egyptian version of it. Egypt’s decline began with the canal. Because the Khedive Ismail Pasha drove the country to ruin with the construction and the pompous opening. That doesn’t diminish pride in the achievement tens of thousands of Egyptians lost their lives for, but the Viceroy soon had to sell his stake in the canal company. The British and French used the debts that he accumulated as an excuse to make Egypt a de facto colony.