It could take weeks to dislodge the ship stuck in the Suez Canal, straining a vital supply chain route

·3 min read
Suez canal ever given
The Ever Given, trapped in the Suez Canal, Egypt, as of Thursday March 25 2021. Suez Canal Authority
  • One of the world's biggest container ships ran aground in the Suez Canal Tuesday.

  • The blockage has pinned in hundreds of other cargo ship in transit.

  • An expert involved in clearing the canal said it could take weeks before the waterway opens again.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A massive container ship has been blocking the Suez Canal, a major global shipping route, for over two days now and experts say it might not be moving any time soon.

The Ever Given, one of the biggest container ships in the world, ran aground on Tuesday morning, blocking all other major vessels from passing through the heavily-trafficked waterway.

The CEO of Boskalis Peter Berdowski, a Dutch company that is helping to address the blockage, said there are a lot of unknowns as to when the waterway will be cleared - making the timeline for its removal nearly impossible to predict.

"We can't exclude it might take weeks, depending on the situation, Berdowski said on Dutch Television, according to Reuters.

The ship is currently stuck at a near-right angle to the Egyptian canal that connects Europe and Asia. Part of the hulking 224,000-ton freighter had embedded itself in the bank of the canal, blocking hundreds of cargo ships that now face a decision to wait or find an alternate route. Reuters reported that diverted ships would likely be forced to go around Africa - another 15,000 miles farther.

Everything from consumer products to machinery parts to oil flows through the 120-mile passage. Nearly 19,000 ships passed through the canal during 2020, for an average of about 52 ships per day, according to the Suez Canal Authority.

Since Wednesday night, dredgers have been working to free the ship so that it can be refloated and tugboats have been attached to the vessel to try and shift its weight, according to a statement from the ship's technical manager Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement.

Suez canal ever given
The Ever Given, trapped in the Suez Canal, Egypt, as of Thursday March 25 2021. Suez Canal Authority

Wind conditions, as well as the sheer size of the vessel, have made relocating the Ever Given increasingly difficult, according to a statement from the shipping company responsible for the vessel.

The Suez Canal blockage is just one of many mishaps to befall the global supply chain in the past few months. Prices of goods are expected to continue to rise as delays in key California ports, computer chip shortages and the Texas freeze complicate an already precarious post-pandemic supply chain.

An economist at Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, John Glen, said the blockage could add 10 days to UK delivery times.

"This may seem like a small problem in a country far away, but the Suez Canal has always been an important logistics route for the world's supply chains and the blockage will likely have serious repercussions if it continues much longer," Glen said.

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