Egypt may seek $1 billion in compensation for Suez Canal crisis

Figure is an estimate of losses from blockage of waterway by ship that ran aground

Egypt said it may seek about $1 billion in compensation after a giant container vessel blocked the Suez Canal for almost a week and rattled shipping markets.

The figure is an estimate of losses linked to transit fees, damages incurred during the dredging and salvage efforts, the cost of the equipment, and labour, Suez Canal Authority chairman Admiral Osama Rabie told local television channel Sada Elbalad.

He did not specify from whom the canal authority would seek compensation.

“This is the right of the country,” Admiral Rabie said. The incident, he said, hurt Egypt’s reputation. “This country should get its due.”

The 400-metre Ever Given ran aground on March 23 in the southern part of the canal and was freed on Monday.

Taiwan’s Evergreen Marine, the vessel’s charterer, said on Thursday that it was not responsible for delays of any cargo it was transporting.

The ship and its cargo, which Admiral Rabie said were worth $3.5bn, is currently in the Great Bitter Lake, about halfway along the canal. Investigators boarded the carrier this week to begin investigations into why the ship ran aground.

Divers inspected the underside of the colossal container ship and saw some damage to the bow but not enough to take it out of service, officials said on Wednesday.

Admiral Rabie said the ship and cargo could be held in Egypt if the matter of compensation went to court. But such a scenario is unlikely, he said, because Egypt has a long relationship with the ship's owner.

Evergreen’s agent in Egypt, Mohamed Bahaa, said he doubted there would be any financial dispute between his company and the canal authorities.

“In 40 years now, not a single case of dispute has happened between SCA and Evergreen. We all respect all the rules of the SCA," he said.

Updated: April 1, 2021 09:56 PM

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