- In 2015, Egypt’s president commissioned an expansion to the Suez Canal that added an additional shipping channel.
- The project was a success and added a new lane in the northern region of the canal.
- The ship blocking the Suez, however, is in the southern region that was untouched by the expansion.
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Despite creating a second parallel channel in the northern Suez Canal for easier transport of goods, the container ship currently blocking the canal is stuck in a channel untouched by the addition.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi commissioned the expansion of the canal in 2015 to deepen the main waterway and a new 22-mile channel in the northern part of the Suez in an $8.5 billion infrastructure project.
On Tuesday, the “Ever Given” container ship was traveling north through the southern region of the Suez Canal when an unexpected dust storm threw the ship off course and beaching the vessel, completely preventing boats from passing through.
The global economy loses an estimated $400 million for every hour that the Ever Given blocks the Suez Canal, according to an estimate from Lloyd’s List. The ship has been stuck for over 72 hours, leading to at least $29 billion in losses so far.
The Ever Given is gigantic – the ship is longer than the Empire State Building is tall – and its size is quickly becoming more and more of an issue. Even after excavators are finished uncovering the bow of the ship from the concrete and sand that it’s lodged into, a bevy of tugboats will be needed to shift the ship from its position.
Experts have also suggested lightening the Ever Given via airlifting containers or crane, but the costs and challenges associated with the attempts may lead to different solutions. According to the BBC, if the weight distribution of the ship becomes too unbalanced from attempts to lighten it, it could even break in half.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday that the Biden Administration offered US assistance. The US Navy also plans to send an assessment team of dredging experts to the canal, according to CNN.