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Sunday, 18 April 2021

OK, time for Plan B?

Thousands of containers on board the Ever Given could be offloaded and delivered through other ships as Evergreen Marine, which chartered the Ever Given, comes under mounting pressure to get the goods to their destinations in Europe, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing an unnamed source with direct knowledge of the matter. The Taiwanese firm is now considering this option after the Ever Given was seized last week by the Suez Canal Authority as it looks to reach a compensation agreement with the ship’s owner. Evergreen could deploy empty ships to carry cargo or load boxes onto other container ships, although the prospect of ship-to-ship offloading presents its own set of challenges.

Evergreen has not yet reached a final decision on the fate of containers on standby until a financial settlement for the six-day blockage of the canal is reached. “The possibility of the vessel and the cargo on board being treated separately,” however, is on the table, the shipping company said on Wednesday.

And the crew? Two can leave. The rest must stay. Two crew members were allowed on Thursday to leave the vessel and return to India due to “urgent personal circumstances,” Rabie said in a statement. The SCA stressed its cooperation with the shipping agency to make sure that all crew’s needs are met.

The SCA is doing what it can to get the process moving, but negotiations could take time, SCA Chairman Osama Rabie said in a statement over the weekend. The authority wants the impounded vessel to depart from the Great Bitter Lake — where it is currently anchored for inspection — as soon as possible and is being “highly cooperative” with both shipowner Shoei Kisen and the ship's insurer to reach an agreement that satisfies all parties involved, according to Rabie. The SCA is demanding the owner’s insurer to pay USD 916 mn in compensation for damages to the canal’s embankment and blockage of marine traffic for almost a week, which cost around USD 90 mn in foregone revenues.

The results of the investigation still aren’t out — but that’s not stopping the leaks to the press: The SCA’s investigation into the Ever Given’s grounding showed that the main cause was a technical failure and an error made by the ship’s captain, unnamed sources at the authority told El Watan, without disclosing further information. The dust storm forced the vessel off course, but it wasn’t the “main reason” for the incident, the sources said, claiming that the investigation proved the SCA guide bears no responsibility.

The hold-up in shipments due to the Ever Given's seizure is proving particularly harmful to Chinese shipping companies, according to Caixin Global. When the ship wedged sideways across the canal last month, it was carrying at least USD 3.5 bn-worth of goods, more than three-quarters of which belongs to Chinese firms, the Beijing-based news agency said, citing figures from freight logistics platform Yunquna.

And won’t someone please think of the British gardeners? A twin demand / supply shock in the UK garden gnome market is apparently serious enough to merit a full article in the Guardian, which claims that the Suez blockage and a surge in market demand is threatening to leave the UK gnome-less. “We’re facing a perfect storm,” the Garden Centre Association’s chief executive said.

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