A settlement between the owners of the container ship that blocked the Suez Canal and the waterway’s authority has yet to be sealed, a senior Suez Canal Authority official said on Thursday, dismissing reports that compensation of $540 million had been finalised.
The two sides have signed an initial agreement, Al Arabiya reported on Wednesday, citing unidentified sources.
Any speculation about the compensation amount was pointless until steps were taken to unmoor Ever Given, Mohy El Alwany, a lawyer for the Suez Canal Authority, told The National.
According to the Al Arabiya report, the latest deal mandates that no further legal action be taken against the ship's owner, Japan's Shoei Kisen Kaisha, and that the vessel will receive easy passage through the canal in the future.
Last month, the head of SCA's legal team told The National that the authority had received a "reasonable offer." Khaled Abu Bakr hadn't specified an amount.
The ship’s insurers, UK P&I Club, said on June 21 an “agreement in principle” had been reached between both parties, but refrained from divulging the amount.
The SCA had originally asked for $916 million to cover lost revenue due to halted ship traffic and for damages caused to the waterway. The figure was later scaled down to $550 million.
Since Ever Given's re-floating, the authority has been locked in a legal dispute with the ship’s owners. Each side blamed the other for the 400m-vessel’s blockage of the vital waterway, which halted global trade for six days.
Hundreds of ships were forced to wait to enter the canal. Others that did not want to wait took the longer and more expensive route around the Cape of Good Hope, Africa’s southernmost point.
About 10 per cent of world trade flows through the canal, providing a key source of foreign currency to Egypt.