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Monday, 29 March 2021

Ever Given has us running like an Abbott and Costello cartoon

The world’s biggest chicken bone is finally out of our collective throats after it was dislodged minutes before dispatch. Presidential advisor for canal projects (and former SCA chief) Mohab Mamish indicated that the Ever Given will undergo a comprehensive technical examination to ensure it is fit to be on its way, reports Youm7. The ship is apparently travelling north to the Great Bitter Lake, CNBC reported Leth Agencies — a transit agent at the canal — as saying moments ago.

Despite a minor setback around an hour ago: High winds this afternoon swung the Ever Given back across the Suez Canal, reblocking the waterway and ahead of the next attempt to fully dislodge it, reported Reuters. However, it proved a minor setback as the vessel was not regrounded and engineers were able to finally pry it away from the bank.

Things have been looking up since this morning after the Suez Canal Authority announced the ship was partially refloated successfully this morning, in a statement. Successful push and tow maneuvers had led to the restoration of 80% of the vessel's direction and the stern was 102 meters away from the bank. SCA Head Osama Rabie signalled that the ship could be cleared from the path through today’s continued efforts, he told Sada El Balad (watch, runtime: 08:14).

What had we been doing? Since yesterday, engineers have been taking advantage of a full moon that made low tide lower and high tide higher to float the ship. This afternoon, tugboats had been moving the stern of the ship back and forth to dislodge the front hull from the mud (a movement similar to wiggling a tooth), people familiar with the operation told Bloomberg.

The crews of 450 ships will say goodbye to the Red Sea soon: Marine traffic through the canal is still waiting to resume once the Ever Given is directed to the lakes area, a wider section of the Canal, allowing the more than 450 waiting vessels to continue their journeys.

Inshallah: If the vessel is dislodged today, all waiting ships should pass through the canal within the next three days, Rabie added.

It’s still a bad day to be in marine insurance: There’s a risk that this incident could push insurance companies to increase premiums on ships passing through the Canal, which in return would effectively impact the amount of vessels deciding to transit through the Egyptian waterway, Mamish told Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 2:02). However, Mamish stressed that the possibility of insurance premiums going up is so far hypothetical and that the SCA will work to offer better service in the future to offset the possible move. Around 12% of global trade passes through the Suez Canal, Mamish added, saying that he’s optimistic our foothold will remain in place.

That said, the blockage will lead to lower global earnings for reinsurers and losses in the hundreds of mns of EUR, Fitch Ratings said today. Reinsurers, who provide policies to insurance companies to shield them from some of the risks, will be affected financially, but their credit profiles won’t necessarily be hit, the ratings agency said. Those companies had already reported heavy declines in profitability due to paying high claims during the pandemic, Fitch noted.

The story has been leading coverage on Egypt on the front pages of the foreign press this afternoon: Reuters | Associated Press | Bloomberg | Financial Times | CNBC | The New York Times | The Wall Street Journal

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