An agreement has been reached to release the container ship that blocked the Suez Canal, following a dispute over compensation.
The development follows negotiations between the ships owners, insurers and the Suez Canal Authority over compensation for the impact of the grounding of the Ever Given ship in March.
The ship and its cargo have been impounded in the Great Bitter Lake, part of the canal, since the incident, with a court ruling it could only be released after compensation was paid to the SCA to cover related losses.
The six-day blockage in March halted traffic on the canal, causing significant disruption to trade and supply chains. It was estimated this disrupted goods worth $9.6bn travelling through the canal each day.
The SCA initially sought $916m. This was later reduced to almost $600m but the ship’s insurer UK Club said the reduced claim was still “exceptionally large”.
In May, Reuters reported SCA chairman Osama Rabie had blamed the ship’s high speed and rudder size for the incident.
UK Club said the Ever Given’s owners and insurers “fully acknowledge that the SCA is entitled to compensation for their legitimate claims arising out of this incident”. However, it added that it was “concerned by the allegations made by the SCA”.
It said: “Critically it is important to clarify that whilst the master is ultimately responsible for the vessel, navigation in the Canal transit within a convoy is controlled by the Suez Canal pilots and SCA vessel traffic management services. Such controls include the speed of the transit and the availability of escort tugs.”
UK Club said following an agreement in principle between the parties, further meetings with the SCA’s negotiating committee, and numerous court hearings good progress had been made and a formal solution had now been agreed. It did not, however, reveal a figure for compensation.
UK Club said: “Preparations for the release of the vessel will be made and an event marking the agreement will be held at the authority’s headquarters in Ismailia in due course.”
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