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Monday, 24 May 2021

How low can we go?

SCA cuts its Ever Given compensation demand — again: The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has again downgraded its compensation demands for the Ever Given’s blockage of the Suez Canal, saying it’s now looking for USD 550 mn, SCA boss Osama Rabie told Al Hayah Al Youm’s Mohamed Sherdy yesterday (watch, runtime: 7:55). The SCA had initially set its compensation request at USD 916 mn, but Rabie says this was a “preliminary” figure before the authority accurately crunched the numbers and determined the value of the cargo that is on board the mega vessel. The SCA decided has slashed its demand so that it doesn’t exceed the value of the cargo on board as a gesture of goodwill, Rabie told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib (watch, runtime: 11:20). Rabie had told Adib earlier this month that the SCA had revised its claim to USD 600 mn.

An initial USD 200 mn down payment could see the SCA release the ship from the Great Bitter Lake, where it is currently being held, if the ship’s owner gets an LG from an Egyptian bank for the rest of the amount, Rabie told Adib.

The counter offer: Shoei Kisen, the ship’s owner, has offered to pay USD 150 mn instead of USD 550 mn, Rabie told Ala Mas’ouleety’s Ahmed Moussa (watch, runtime: 15:33).

What is the SCA asking compensation for? The compensation package includes the cost of repairing the canal’s bank where the mega vessel was lodged and had to be dug out, as well as for dredgers that the SCA put to work around the clock and are now out of commission because of the Ever Given saga. The SCA is also asking Shoei Kisen to compensate the authority for a tugboat that sank during the operation, which resulted in the death of a member of the team working on digging out the Ever Given, according to a statement. In addition to covering compensation for the canal’s workers, divers, command center operators, and other employees for working overtime to resolve the blockage, the price tag also covers the canal’s lost revenues during the closure, estimated at around USD 90 mn.

Operation Pass the Buck continues: The Ever Given’s grounding in the canal is the responsibility of the ship’s captain and not of the two SCA pilots who were on board the vessel, Rabie insisted. The SCA boss also said that the choice of whether or not to enter the waterway was ultimately captain’s to make, since the pilots only fulfill an advisory role. Shoei Kisen’s lawyers argued at a court hearing over the weekend that the SCA was at fault for allowing the ship to enter the canal in the midst of a storm and without tugboats accompanying it through the route.

The compensation claim is still making its way through the courts, with a hearing scheduled for 29 May, while the ship continues to be held in the Great Bitter Lake following the rejection of an appeal by Shoei Kisen against its seizure.

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