An Aladdin’s cave of goods ranging from IKEA furnishings to tens of thousands of livestock has been stuck in a maritime traffic jam caused by the Suez Canal blockage.
- About 100 ships laden with oil or refined products were in holding areas
- Apart from goods, some 130,000 head of livestock on 11 ships sent from Romania has also been held up
- Sweden’s IKEA said it had 110 containers on the stricken Ever Given and other ships in the pile-up
More than 360 vessels have been stranded in the Mediterranean to the north and in the Red Sea at the other end as well since the giant container ship Ever Given was wedged diagonally across the Suez Canal.
Industry experts have estimated the total value of goods marooned at sea as anywhere between $3 billion ($3.9 billion) and $9.6 billion ($12.5 billion).
Up to 1.74 million barrels of oil a day is normally shipped through the canal, but 80 per cent of Gulf exports to Europe pass through the pipeline that crosses Egypt, according to Paola Rodriguez Masiu of Rystad Energy.
According to MarineTraffic, about 100 ships laden with oil or refined products were in holding areas Sunday.
The Ever Given has been stranded across one of the worlds busiest waterways for six days.
Adds to a ‘volatile situation’
Apart from goods, some 130,000 head of livestock on 11 ships sent from Romania have also been held up.
“My greatest fear is that animals run out of food and water and they get stuck on the ships because they cannot be unloaded somewhere else for paperwork reasons,” Gerit Weidinger, EU coordinator for NGO Animals International, The Guardian.
Egypt, for its part, has sent fodder and three teams of vets to examine livestock stuck at sea, some bound for Jordan.
Sweden’s IKEA said it has 110 containers on the stricken Ever Given and other ships in the pile-up.
“The blockage of the Suez Canal is an additional constraint to an already challenging and volatile situation for global supply chains brought on by the pandemic,” an IKEA spokesperson said.
Small vessels were able to maneuver around the stranded Ever Given at first, but traffic has since been suspended while tug boats do their thing.(AP: Suez Canal Authority
The Van Rees Group, based in Rotterdam, said 80 containers of tea were trapped at sea on 15 vessels and said there could be “chaos” for the company as supplies dried up.
Dave Hinton, the owner of a timber company in northwest England, said he had a consignment of French oak stuck on a ship.
The oak had been sent from France for reprocessing into veneered flooring in China, and was on its way back to a customer in Britain, Hinton said.
“I’ve spoken to my customer and told him the bad news that his floor was blocking the Suez Canal. He didn’t believe me, he thought I was pulling his leg,” he told BBC radio on Friday.
What is the Suez Canal?
If you’re unclear why Egypt’s Suez Canal has been so important for so long here’s a breakdown.
Shipping giants such as Denmark’s Maersk have re-routed ships to the long journey around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, adding at least seven days to the travel time.
Even if the Ever Given were dislodged, Maersk estimated Saturday it would take between three and six days for the stranded ships to pass through the canal.
The company said that 32 Maersk and partner vessels would be directly affected by the end of the weekend, with 15 re-routed, and the numbers could increase unless the canal was reopened.
According to Lloyd’s List, up to 90 per cent of the affected cargo is not insured against delays.