Agreement in Principle Reached Over Suez Canal Ship Dispute

June 24, 2021

ISMAILIA — The owners and insurers of a giant cargo ship that blocked the Suez Canal in March have reached agreement in principle in a compensation dispute with the canal authority, their representative and the canal’s chairman said on Wednesday.

The Ever Given container ship has been anchored in a lake between two stretches of the canal since it was dislodged on March 29. It had been grounded across the canal for six days, blocking hundreds of ships and disrupting global trade.

“We agreed to settle this issue in a peaceful way without going through the courts and agreed on a final settlement. The deal is being drafted and will be reviewed,” Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Chairman Osama Rabie told a local Egyptian television program late on Wednesday.

Work is under way to finalize a signed settlement agreement as soon as possible and arrangements for the release of the Ever Given vessel would be made after formalities had been dealt with, Faz Peermohamed of Stann Marine, which represents the owners and insurers, said in a statement.

The SCA had demanded $916 million in compensation to cover salvage efforts, reputational damage and lost revenue before publicly lowering the request to $550 million.

The Ever Given’s Japanese owners, Shoei Kisen, and its insurers have disputed the claim and the ship’s detention under an Egyptian court order.

The settlement reached was seen as “satisfactory” by the canal, Rabie said, adding that the parties had signed a confidentiality agreement so the sum on the deal would not be made public until everything is finalized and signed.

“I want to reassure you that this settlement upheld all of our rights, the cost of the rescue operation and the damages that befell the waterway. We also maintained our relationship with our partners… and the political and economic relations with Japan, thank God,” Rabie said

The six-day blockage disrupted global shipping, according to the Associated Press. Hundreds of ships waited in place for the canal to be unblocked, while some ships were forced to take the much longer route around the Cape of Good Hope at Africa’s southern tip, requiring additional fuel and other costs.

About 10% of world trade flows through the canal, a pivotal source of foreign currency to Egypt. Some 19,000 vessels passed through the canal last year, according to official figures, the AP reported.

About the photo: In this photo released by Suez Canal Authority, the Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, is pulled by one of the Suez Canal tugboats, in the Suez Canal, Egypt, Monday, March 29, 2021. Engineers on Monday “partially refloated ” the colossal container ship that continues to block traffic through the Suez Canal, authorities said, without providing further details about when the vessel would be set free. (Suez Canal Authority via AP)

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