Blockade in the Suez Canal: “There may be problems with the supply situation in Europe”
A 400 meter long container ship is blocking the most important trade route between Asia and Europe. In the worst case, this could also affect Swiss consumers. But there is hope.
The main logistics artery between Europe and Asia is blocked: the 400-meter-long cargo ship “Ever Given” has been blocking the Suez Canal, which connects the Red Sea with the Mediterranean, since Tuesday.
Workers are currently trying to get the aground container ship afloat again. The pictures show how an excavator tries to uncover the bow of the cargo monster.
The media reported on Wednesday afternoon that the “Ever Given” can be moved again. These reports have proven to be false, according to Al-Jazeera. The lock could last for days. 20 container ships are already stowed in the Suez Canal. According to watson information, a total of 100,000 shipping containers are blocked. In the worst case, the container ships would have to travel from Africa to Europe via Horn, which would mean a detour of 7,000 kilometers.
That means the ship fiasco for the trade in goods
Whether crude oil, flat screen TV, Nike trainers or car accessories: the incident in the Suez Canal has an impact on the entire supply chain. The oil price has already risen. “There can be problems with the supply situation in Europe within days,” says Jörg Schmitt to watson. He is Head of the International Logistics Management program at the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland FHNW.
The global supply chain is a very fragile system. This is because many companies have reduced their stocks to a minimum for cost reasons. “Nowadays it is more the ships or trucks that are the warehouse,” continues Schmitt. The companies are accordingly susceptible to disruptions in the movement of goods. After a few days, for example, the auto industry could be missing certain parts, which could lead to a production stop. This happened during a strike in Germany.
Another industry insider, who wants to remain anonymous, sees the situation as less dramatic. In any case, only those goods that are less time-critical would be transported by sea freight. If the disruption lasts longer, there are also alternative options. Freight could be brought to Dubai by ship and then to Europe by plane. Goods can also be transported by rail, even if the capacities are not comparable with those of shipping.
The Suez Canal fiasco is not the only problem facing the logistics industry. Because of Corona there is already a large backlog of goods from Asia. The prices for containers have skyrocketed. “The Suez Canal, a bottleneck for container shipping, is now blocked. That can definitely make the barrel overflow », says Schmitt.
Did sandstorm lead to disaster?
On Wednesday noon, the Egyptian authorities reported, according to Al Jazeera, that part of the freighter is mobile again. Why the ship went off course has not yet been conclusively clarified. According to initial reports, there was a power failure on the ship. In addition, a sandstorm raged at the time of the accident. Even for experienced seafarers, it is not easy to steer a 400-meter-long steel giant through the narrow shipping channel in currents and crosswinds. The desert wind can sweep the canal here at a stormy 40 or 50 knots per hour.
Image: google maps
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Suez Canal Expert explained blockade means shipping traffic