SUEZ, Egypt (AP) — The massive cargo ship that was stuck in the Suez Canal for nearly a week has been freed, CBS News reported early Monday morning.
The canal is one of the busiest trade routes in the world and traffic should resume in the next couple of hours, the news agency said.
Engineers on Monday “partially refloated” the colossal container ship, a canal services firm said, without providing further details about when the vessel would be fully set free. Several hours later, they reported it was free.
Nearly a week ago, the skyscraper-sized Ever Given got stuck sideways in the crucial waterway, creating a massive traffic jam. The obstruction has held up $9 billion each day in global trade and strained supply chains already burdened by the coronavirus pandemic. At least 367 vessels, carrying everything from crude oil to cattle, were still waiting to pass through the canal, while dozens more were taking the alternate route around the Cape of Good Hope at Africa’s southern tip, adding some two weeks to journeys and threatening delivery delays.
With canal transits stopped, Egypt already has lost over $95 million in revenue, according to the data firm Refinitiv. Clearing the backlog of ships already waiting to pass through the canal will take at least 10 days, officials said.
The freeing of the vessel came after intensive efforts to push and pull the vessel with 10 tugboats when the full moon brought spring tide, officials said, raising the canal’s water level. Videos shared widely on social media appeared to show tugboats in the canal sounding their horns in celebration of the Ever Given being wrenched from the shore.
The price of international benchmark Brent crude dropped some 2% to just over $63 on the news.
The canal carries over 10% of global trade, including 7% of the world’s oil. Over 19,000 ships passed through last year, according to canal authorities. Millions of barrels of oil and liquified natural gas flow through the artery from the Persian Gulf to Europe and North America. Goods made in China — furniture, clothes, supermarket basics — bound for Europe also must go through the canal, or else take a circuitous 3,1000 mile detour around the southern tip of Africa.
The unprecedented shutdown has threatened to disrupt oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East and raised fears of extended delays, good shortages and rising costs for consumers.