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Wednesday, 14 April 2021

The Ever Given has been seized — and its owners aren’t happy

The Ever Given’s owners aren’t happy that their ship has been seized: The owners of the Ever Given have said they are “disappointed” at the Suez Canal Authority’s (SCA) decision to seize the vessel, claiming they had offered the authority “carefully considered and generous” compensation for blocking the canal last month. In a statement released yesterday, the ship’s protection and indemnity insurer UK Club said the SCA had requested it pay USD 916 mn in compensation for the incident, a claim it says was “largely unsupported.”

What did the SCA ask for? According to UK P&I, the SCA’s claim included a USD 300 mn “salvage bonus” and another USD 300 mn for “loss of reputation.” It described the USD 916 mn demand as “extraordinarily large” and said that the authority had not provided justification for the figure. The claim also does not factor in the cost of salvaging the vessel, which “owners and their hull underwriters expect to receive separately,” the statement said. This is slightly higher than the USD 900 mn reported by local media on Monday and lower than the USD 1 bn the authority had previously been expected to claim.

Neither UK P&I nor the ship’s owner — Japan’s Shoei Kisen — have disclosed how much was offered in compensation. A day after an offer was made on 12 April, the SCA submitted a seizure request to the Ismailia Economic Court, allowing it take control of the vessel until its compensation demands were met. A day before the insurer claimed its “generous” offer, Chairman Osama Rabie told state TV that “they don’t want to pay anything” for the incident (watch, runtime: 9:46).

The ship is officially impounded: Rabie confirmed that the authority had taken control of the ship yesterday after the court approved its seizure request, Ahram Gate reported.

Negotiations are continuing: “The owners will continue to negotiate with the SCA,” the insurer said. An SCA official confirmed the talks to Reuters. The authority has reportedly been in talks with Shoei Kisen for two weeks now to reach a financial settlement outside of court.

Another unfortunate byproduct of the Suez blockage: A surge in ship pollution that the BBC says was visible from space. Sulphur dioxide levels in the air rose to five times their normal levels in the Mediterranean last month, as hundreds of ships were left idled by the blockage. This was picked up by the EU's Sentinel-5P satellite, which carries devices capable of detecting pollutants in the atmosphere.

The story is everywhere in the foreign press this morning: Bloomberg | AFP | Washington Post | Wall Street Journal | CNN.

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