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Evergreen Looks at Moving Cargo From Seized Suez Ship

Evergreen Marine Corp. is considering removing thousands of containers from its Ever Given ship to get the goods moving to their final destinations after an Egyptian court seized the giant cargo ship over a compensation feud.

“Customers are asking when their boxes will be delivered after the ship seizure, and the prospect of moving the containers to other ships and delivering them to the clients in Europe is now on the table,” a person directly involved in the matter said.

“It won’t be easy to do, but there are a number of options,” this person said. “Empty ships can be deployed to pick up boxes and some can be loaded to other container ships crossing on the same route to Europe.”

The Ever Given ran aground in the Suez Canal on March 23 while hauling around 18,000 loaded containers, in 20-foot container equivalent units, a standard maritime measure, from Asia to Europe. Salvage teams freed the ship six days later, but it remains in a holding area in the canal while the Suez Canal Authority Pursues a claim of $916 million against the ship’s owner, Japan-based Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., including the cost of salvage and other damages.

Taiwan’s Evergreen was operating the vessel on a long-term charter from ship owner Shoei Kisen when the Ever Given ran aground.

Shifting the cargo to another ship would be a physical challenge and may require moving the vessel from its anchorage in the canal’s Great Bitter Lake to Egypt’s nearby Port Said. Any effort to remove the shipments would be complicated by the legal claims and fees surrounding the vessel and its cargo customers.

Shoei Kisen has invoked the shipping legal clause known as general average that calls for companies with cargo on a distressed vessel to share in the cost of the ship’s recovery.

Evergreen said in a statement that it is examining the Egyptian court order allowing the detention of the ship “and studying the possibility of the vessel and the cargo on board being treated separately.”

The Suez shutdown has added to delivery delays and rising costs for cargo owners and further strained a shipping industry that has been struggling with capacity constraints and congestion from disruptions triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. Evergreen hasn’t identified the customers whose shipments are on the Ever Given, but some companies have pointed to potential impact in their operations.

Germany-based discount supermarket Aldi, which runs 10,000 stores in 20 countries, said last month in a Facebook post that a range of products from floor mats to bicycles and riding accessories that were supposed to hit its shelves in March and April will be delayed by around a month on average.

“We’re sorry, the Special Buys you’re looking for may have been delayed due to current events,” the grocer said.

American furniture manufacturer La-Z-Boy Inc. said in an investor conference on March 24 that it had five containers on the vessel.

The U.K. P&I Club, the Ever Given’s insurer, said the $916 million claim was “largely unsupported” and without “detailed justification.”

“The grounding resulted in no pollution and no reported injuries. The vessel was refloated after six days and the Suez Canal promptly resumed their commercial operations,” it said in a statement this week.

The ship has been deemed safe to sail by the American Bureau of Shipping, a marine classification society, which said it can move to Port Said for further checks and then on to Rotterdam, its original destination.

Source: Wall Street Journal


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