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The whole world celebrated the successful maneuver that ended up uncorking the Ever Given in the Suez Canal at the end of March. Many thought that the story of the blockade of one of the most important routes for international trade had come to an end. But the truth is that for the freighter owners, the problem is far from being solved.
The reason? Egypt decided that it will not release the ship - currently anchored in the Great Bitter Lake - until a fine of one billion dollars is paid in compensation for the damages generated during the week-long blockage.
"The ship will remain here until the investigation is completed and compensation is paid," Osama Rabie, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), told state television in Egypt.
"We expect a quick settlement. The moment they agree on compensation, the ship will be allowed to move," he assured.
Regarding the amount of compensation, Rabie said in early April that "they will calculate the damage and losses and how much the dredging machines have consumed."
"The estimate will reach $1 billion or maybe a little more. It is a right that Egypt has," he maintained.
That figure would be calculated based on lost transit fees, damage to the waterway during draining, efforts to refloat the freighter, and equipment and material costs.
Shoei Kisen, the Japanese firm that owns the Ever Given, has said that it has not received any official claim or legal demand for the blockage caused by the freighter. Still, they have acknowledged that they are in "negotiations" with the canal authority.
Why was the vessel stranded? Osama Rabie's statements come amid an investigation to obtain more clues about how the Ever Given ended up left on the canal bank.
Egypt seizes the Ever Given, saying its owners owe nearly $1 billion for Suez Canal traffic jam https://t.co/vaSmidgVel
The initial cause was attributed to high winds, but investigators must now ascertain whether there was any technical or human error, a theory that the ACS chairman backs.
"The canal has never been closed due to bad weather," Rabie said. And he also denied that the ship's huge size was the cause, as "even bigger cargo ships" pass through the waterway.
As one of the world's leading economic arteries - through which more than 12% of total trade passes - the Suez Canal's stagnation brought a series of economic consequences that ended up affecting the pockets of millions of people.
Almost two million barrels of oil and approximately 8% of liquefied natural gas pass through the Suez Canal every day. This had a substantial impact on the price of these products.
Besides, it is estimated that more than 360 vessels were stuck in the canal, including container freighters and oil and natural gas tankers.
According to Osama Rabie, the freighter's grounding heavily impacted this trade route, costing between $14 million and $15 million for each day of blockage.
The canal is a crucial source of revenue for Egypt. According to Moody's credit rating agency, trade passing through here contributed 2% of the country's GDP until before the pandemic.