Freight News, Sea

Ever Given ‘almost free’

[ March 29, 2021   //   ]

The Evergreen containership Ever Given that has been wedged aground blocking the Suez Canal has been partially freed, raising hopes that the vital waterway could be fully open again within hours. Tug boats have succeeded in moving the vessel away from the canal banks.

If these efforts are successful, it means that a time-consuming lightering operation to removed containers from the stricken vessel will not be necessary.

However, the week-long blockage has led to a tailback of over 360 ships to pass through, while others have already diverted away from the Suez Canal to the longer Cape route, adding about two weeks to voyage times.

Meanwhile, freight market analyst David Kerstens likened the effect of the Suez blockage to the bankruptcy of Korean-owned Hanjin Line n 2016, which led to a 60% surge in container freight rates, and also accelerated freight volume growth from 1% to 8%. (However, at the present time, airfreight capacity is severely restricted because of the Covid crisis.)

Kerstens anticipated that profitability of Maersk and Hapag Lloyd would benefit, as the anticipated return to normal market conditions will take longer, while DSV & Deutsche Post DHL, with access to air capacity, would benefit from a shift from sea to air.