The epic traffic jam of 400 ships caused by the Ever Given blockage of the Suez Canal is cleared, Egyptian authorities say

suez canal ever given
Photographers take pictures of ships sailing through the Suez Canal as traffic resumes after the “Ever Given” container ship operated by the Evergreen Marine Corporation, was freed after blocking the waterway route for almost a week.

  • A shipping backlog of more than 400 ships was caused by the Ever Given blocking the Suez Canal.
  • The 61 ships that remain stranded are expected to pass through the waterway on Saturday.
  • Problems caused by the blockage could take months to resolve, the world’s biggest shipping company warned.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The shipping backlog that built up after the Ever Given container ship became lodged in the Suez Canal should come to an end on Saturday, authorities told Reuters.

The 61 remaining ships of the 422 that were left stranded after the major blockage are expected to pass through the waterway imminently, the Suez Canal Authority’s chairman, Osama Rabie, said.

Around 85 ships in total are set to pass through the canal on Saturday, he added.

Read more: The 4 biggest losers of the Suez Canal fiasco – and 4 surprising winners

Last Monday, the Egyptian president’s advisor for the canal authority told Bloomberg that it could take “around a week” to get all of the ships out of the canal’s corridor.

If the remaining ships successfully pass through the waterway on Saturday, the backlog’s end will have beaten expectations by a couple of days.

The reopening of the canal, however, will likely not mark the end of the disruption.

The world’s biggest shipping company, Maersk, warned on Monday that the shipping problems caused by the Ever Given could take months to resolve, Insider’s Sinéad Baker reported.

“Even when the canal gets reopened, the ripple effects on global capacity and equipment are significant and the blockage has already triggered a series of further disruptions and backlogs in global shipping that could take weeks, possibly months, to unravel,” Maersk said.

The 1,300-foot Ever Given container ship was stuck for about 152 hours, with the blockage’s total costs reaching an estimated $60 billion.

Rabie told local television stations that an investigation into what caused the costly jam is ongoing and will reach its conclusion next week, Reuters reported.

“The investigation is going well‮ ‬and will take two more days. Then we will announce the results,” Rabie said.

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A supermoon played a crucial role in freeing the Ever Given from the Suez Canal, boosting the tide so it was easier to move

super Worm moon super moon
A supermoon.

  • The Ever Given was freed from the Suez Canal on Monday thanks in part to a supermoon.
  • The phenomenon occurs when the moon orbits closer to earth, increasing its pull on the seas.
  • One came on Sunday, leading to a “spring tide” that increased water levels during the operation.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A supermoon helped dislodge the Ever Given container ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal, raising the tides with its gravitational pull.

The Ever Given was finally freed on Monday, after 6 days blocking the Suez canal and backing up international transport.

Much of the work was done by humans and their heavy machinery – like tugboats and the powerful Mashhour dredging ship that moved vast quantities of sand away from the ship’s full.

But it may not have worked if the heavens hadn’t been aligned.

Noon tides were unusually high on Monday because they coincided with a full moon. Insider’s Kevin Shalvey noted the expected high waters while the operation was underway.

Tides are at their highest when the moon is full, or there is a new moon.

Tide Forecast Suez Canal Spring Tide
Suez Canal tides from March 27 to April 4.

On such days, the sun, moon and earth are aligned, pulling the tides in one direction and increasing the water’s movement.

These are called “Spring” of “King Tides”, and they happen twice a month.

Spring Tide Graphic NOAA
Spring tides occur with the arrival of a new or full moon.

Sunday night’s full moon also happened to be the worm moon, the first full moon in March. By some definitions, it also counted as a supermoon.

A supermoon happens when the moon is full while its orbit is closest to the Earth. It is characterised by being brighter and larger than other full moons.

The Moon orbits the Earth in an oval shape. At its farthest point, it is about 253,000 miles from the Earth. At its closest to the Earth, it is about 30,000 miles nearer.

The full moon that helped the boat escape was on March 28. The moon was even closer on March 30, according to EarthSky.org.

That was a day after the moon and tide that helped free the Ever Given, but it is common to refer to several consecutive nights’ worth of moons as being supermoons.

The teams working to free the Ever Given knew this would come, and noted in advance that tides were due to rise an extra foot and a half, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The Suez Canal reopened after the Ever Given was freed, enabling shipping via the channel to resume.

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Oil drops after Ever Given container ship blocking the Suez Canal is refloated

2021 03 29T081237Z_388890586_RC2WKM93CCRG_RTRMADP_3_EGYPT SUEZCANAL SHIP.JPG
The Ever Given was partially refloated on Monday

Oil prices fell on Monday and traders breathed a sigh of relief after the giant container ship Ever Given that has blocked the Suez Canal for almost a week was refloated.

Brent crude oil, the global benchmark price, fell as much as 2% before recovering somewhat to stand 0.6% lower at $64.03 a barrel on Monday morning. WTI crude was down 1.1% to $60.30 a barrel.

The fall in oil prices was a sign that the pressure on global supply chains is set to ease, with the local authorities saying they will act fast to try to clear the backlog of ships at the crucial trade route.

The Suez Canal Authority said on Monday the Ever Given ship, which has been lodged lengthways in the canal for almost a week, had been successfully refloated and brought away from the shore. It said the ship was not yet completely free, however.

It added: “Navigation shall be resumed immediately upon the complete restoration of the vessel’s direction.”

The Ever Given, an enormous container ship almost the length of the Empire State Building, has been stuck in the canal since Tuesday, completely blocking the route and snarling up global trade.

Almost 15% of world shipping goes through the Suez Canal, which cuts through Egypt from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea.

The blockage sent oil prices sharply higher, as backlogs of energy shipments built up. Brent crude had fallen to close to $60 a barrel on Monday, but rose near $65 over the week.

Other factors affected oil prices too, however, with uncertainty surrounding demand as economies recover and a meeting of the Opec oil cartel and its allies later this week.

“Brent has been trading soft in the morning session today after reports emerged that the ship blocking the Suez Canal has been refloated though it’s still unclear how soon the trade route could be reopened,” Warren Patterson, head of commodities strategy at Dutch bank ING, said.

Jefferies analyst David Kerstens said the Suez blockage would worsen global trade, which has already been disrupted by the coronavirus crisis.

He said shipping capacity on the Asia-Europe route will be “temporarily reduced by c.25%, while port congestion is set to further increase, in a market already characterised by supply chain bottlenecks and equipment shortages, which has resulted in record-high freight rates.”

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