The owner of a gigantic ship that brought global traffic to a standstill on the Suez Canal blamed “strong winds” for the accident.
Wild rescue efforts are still underway on one of the world’s most important waterways after the Ever Given ran aground on Tuesday, causing massive buildup.
About 10 tugs struggled to free the affected boat, which had caused a large traffic jam and blocked the water portal to Europe.
It is a race against time, because the longer the 400-meter-long, 224,000-tonne ship blocks the important trade route, the greater the impact on global deliveries.
Taiwan’s Evergreen Marine Corp, which is leasing the affected ship, said the owner blamed high winds for the disaster.
The group said the owner alleged the ship was “suspected of being hit by a sudden high wind, causing the hull to deviate from the waterway and accidentally hit the bottom”.
The Suez Canal Authority said in a statement the ship had lost the ability to navigate under “high winds and a dust storm”.
The ship, owned by Japanese firm Shoei Kisen KK, could face claims by the agency for lost revenue, as well as other ships that got stuck in arrears.
Marcus Baker, global director of shipping and freight for insurance broker Marsh, said, “When ships keep building up, there are massive supply chain problems.”
Dozens of ships carrying crude oil, liquefied natural gas and retail goods were unable to pass through the canal on Wednesday, potentially disrupting supplies to world markets.
Oil research firm Vortexa said ten tankers holding 13 million barrels of crude oil could be affected and oil prices rose more than 2 percent.
If Ever Given was stuck for up to 48 hours, “the impact will be limited to a gradual deterioration in already severe ship delays,” said Niels Madsen, Vice President of Product and Operations at Sea-Intelligence in Denmark.
“On the other hand, if the Suez Canal remains blocked for another 3-5 days, it will have very serious global implications,” he said.
It has been reported that at least 30 ships were blocked north of Ever Given, which was destined for the Netherlands, before getting stuck, and three to the south.
Several dozen ships could also be seen at both entrances to the canal.
The chairman of the SCA told the local media that despite the blockade, a convoy was heading south and that the agency was trying to keep traffic between the waiting areas as good as possible while the rescue efforts continued.
“As soon as we get this boat out, things will be back to normal. If God willing, we’ll be done today,” said Chairman Osama Rabie.
The agency is considering compensation for delayed ships, he said.
Earthing is the number one cause of ship incidents in the canal at 25 in the past 10 years.
Almost a third of the world’s container shipping traverses the canal every day, carrying everything from fuel to consumer goods.
The main alternative route for ships between Asia and Europe around the African Cape takes a week longer.