A 224,000 ton container ship is still blocking the Suez Canal after getting into difficulty and running aground during a dust storm. Eight tugboats are attempting to free the Ever Given which was enroute from Rotterdam and sailing under a Panama flag. Unless the incident is resolved swiftly, it could have repercussions for oil prices and commercial shipping contracts given the importance of the Suez Canal as a major trade artery.
The Suez Canal was opened in 1869 and the number of vessels transiting it has increased swiftly over the years. The most recent statistics from the Suez Canal Authority show that the number of vessels passing through it soared dramatically in the late 1970s while tonnage experienced noticeable growth just after the turn of the century. In 2020, nearly 19,000 ships transited the Suez Canal, averaging 51.5 per day. Vessels have grown in size and capacity and 1.17 billion net tons was handled by the crucial artery last year.