Early agreement reached in dispute over Suez Canal ship

23 June 2021, 15:14

The Ever Given cargo ship
Suez Canal Vessel. Picture: PA

The Ever Given ran aground in March, blocking the crucial waterway for six days.

The owners and insurers of the giant container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week earlier this year have reached an agreement in principle over their dispute with canal authorities, representatives from both sides have said.

Stann Marine, the lawyers representing the vessel’s owners and insurers, and a spokeswoman for the Suez Canal Authority both confirmed the development. Neither would elaborate on what the agreement would entail.

The dispute centres on the compensation amount the Suez Canal Authority is claiming for the salvage of the vessel Ever Given, which ran aground in March, blocking the crucial waterway for six days.

The money would cover the salvage operation, costs of stalled canal traffic, and lost transit fees for the week the Ever Given blocked the canal.

At first, the Suez Canal Authority demanded 916 million US dollars in compensation, which was later lowered to 550 million US dollars.

Since it was freed, the Panama-flagged vessel, which carries cargo between Asia and Europe, has been ordered by authorities to remain in a holding lake mid-canal as its owner and the canal authority try to settle the compensation dispute.

The two sides have traded blame for the vessel’s grounding.

On Sunday, the Ismailia Economic Court adjourned a hearing on the case after the Suez Canal’s lawyers said they were looking into a new offer made by the vessel’s owners.

The six-day blockage disrupted global shipping. Hundreds of ships waited in place for the canal to be unblocked, while some ships were forced to take the much longer route around the Cape of Good Hope at Africa’s southern tip, requiring additional fuel and other costs.

About 10% of world trade flows through the canal, a pivotal source of foreign currency to Egypt. Some 19,000 vessels passed through the canal last year, according to official figures.

The spokeswoman from the Suez Canal Authority’s media office said that more details on the agreement would be released at a later time.

By Press Association