ISMAILIA, Egypt -- Shipping traffic through Egypt’s Suez Canal resumed on Monday after tugs refloated a giant container ship which had been blocking the channel for almost a week, causing a huge build-up of vessels around the waterway.
With the 400-meter-long (430-yard) Ever Given dislodged, 113 ships were expected to transit the canal in both directions by early Tuesday morning, Suez Canal Authority Chairman Osama Rabie told reporters.
He said there was a backlog of 422 ships and within four days traffic would return to normal. “We will work day and night to end the backlog,” he said.
The Ever Given had become jammed diagonally across a southern section of the canal, the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia, in high winds early on March 23.
Vessels similar in size to the Ever Given, which is one of the world’s largest container ships, could pass through the canal safely, Rabie said.
Shipping group Maersk said the knock-on disruptions to global shipping could take weeks or months to unravel.
Owners and charterers of delayed ships face at least $24 million in expenses they will be unable to recoup as their insurance policies do not cover them and cargo owners could also face uninsured losses, industry sources said.
Ships waiting to transit the canal include dozens of container ships, bulk carriers, oil tankers and liquefied natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas vessels. It's estimated that 17 vehicle carriers are among them.
Automakers and suppliers expect their supply chains to be impacted by the shipping backlog caused by the canal's closure. Audi said the blockage could affect deliveries of finished cars and supplies of materials that are already en route to their destinations.
About 15 percent of world shipping traffic transits the Suez Canal, which is an important source of foreign currency revenue for Egypt. The stoppage was costing the canal up to $15 million a day.
Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report.