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Egypt seized a giant container vessel that closed off the Suez Canal last month as it sought compensation of over US$900 million for the blockage.
A court in the city of Ismailia granted the request regarding the Ever Given vessel at the behest of the Suez Canal Authority, state-run Ahram Gate reported on its website. It did not say who the SCA wants compensation from.
The ship’s insurer for third-party losses, the U.K. P&I Club, said in a statement that it received a claim for US$916 million, the size of which is “largely unsupported.” It said it was disappointed that the vessel was arrested on Tuesday.
Egypt’s move underscores the legal complications following the container vessel’s grounding on March 23, which closed the canal for almost a week and roiled shipping markets. Logjams are expected to continue in the coming weeks at major ports such as Singapore and Rotterdam because of disruptions to schedules, according to supply-chain data provider project44.
The SCA has said compensation is needed to cover losses of transit fees, damage to the waterway during the dredging and salvage efforts, and the cost of equipment and labor. It has calculated that it missed out on about $15 million of transit fees each day.
The U.K. P&I Club said the claim included a US$300 million salvage bonus and another US$300 million for loss of reputation, but not the professional salvor’s claim for its services. It said a generous offer was made to settle the claim and that negotiations will continue.
Calls to the SCA weren’t answered.
A spokesman for the Ever Given’s owner, Japan-based Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., declined to comment on compensation while discussions with the SCA are underway. The company said the crew is still on board the ship, which is now in the Great Bitter Lake, about halfway along the canal.
The charterer, Taiwan’s Evergreen Marine Corp., said in an email it hadn’t received any information from the ship’s owner about a court order.