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Salvage Mission Heads for Critical Moment: Suez Update

(Bloomberg) — The rescue mission to free the Ever Given is entering a critical phase, as salvage teams remove part of the Suez Canal’s bank ahead of a renewed efforts to pull out the ship.Monday between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. local time will be “a tense moment,” said Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis, which is part of the salvage effort. “A lot will depend on the soil under the ship, but I’d give it a 50% chance that we will succeed.”Dredging and digging continues, and another tug is on the way to the giant vessel stranded in one of the world’s most important trade paths. Diggers have removed 27,000 cubic meters of sand, going deep into the banks of the canal.The pile-up of ships — now numbering more than 450 — is one more strain for global supply chains already stretched by the pandemic as the canal is a conduit for about 12% of global trade. Some ships have opted for the long and expensive trip around the southern tip of Africa instead of Suez, and companies are starting to flag the risk of delays.Highlights:Focus is on expanding the dredging area at the front of the ship by “removing the sides of the canal:” Canal Authority27,000 cubic meters of sand have already been dug out, to a depth of 18 metersEgypt has set a deadline of Tuesday to start unloading the ship if it hasn’t refloated yetThe ship’s front was damaged, though the vessel is now stableExplainers: Why the Suez Canal is so important, and why shipping was in a bind even before this crisisPowerful Winds Led to Grounding (Sunday, 1:15 a.m. London)The Ever Given experienced strong winds and gusts in excess of 35 to 40 miles an hour around the time of its grounding in the Suez Canal according to an analysis from weather technology company ClimaCell. Conditions may have made the 400-meter long vessel more difficult to maneuver or kicked up desert sand reducing visibility, Chief Scientist Daniel Rothenberg said in an email. “Such strong winds happen infrequently — only once every few years — in our historical analysis,” he said.It’s 50/50 (Sunday, London 9:40 p.m.)Peter Berdowski, the CEO of Boskalis, which is involved in the rescue, said he will be staying up for the attempt to extract the ship before dawn in Suez.“At 4 or 5 a.m. we will do a first attempt with the first tugboat, this is definitely one for which I will stay up,” he told Dutch television program Nieuwsuur. “A lot will depend on the soil under the ship, but I’d give it a 50% chance that we will succeed.”New Deadline (Sunday, London 9:10 p.m.)If the ship hasn’t been refloated by Monday night then on Tuesday containers will start getting offloaded to make the vessel lighter, Mohab Mamish, the president’s canal adviser, told Bloomberg. A marine winch is being prepared in Alexandria for the unloading effort.The Line Gets Longer (Sunday, London 8:45 p.m.)The number of ships waiting to enter the Suez Canal now exceeds the size of the entire U.S. Navy fleet. Data compiled by Bloomberg show there are 453 vessels queued up Sunday, compared with around 100 at the start of the blockage.Bulk carriers typically hauling commodities such as grains, coal and iron ore account for the biggest share of the vessels stuck in and around the canal. The data also indicate as many as 15 vessels that could be carrying thousands of livestock.Dredging Efforts Expanded (Sunday, London 8 p.m.)Efforts are focused on expanding the dredging area around the ship — including digging into the side of the waterway, according to the Suez Canal Authority.A refloating attempt is scheduled for 4 a.m. local time on Monday after an extra tug arrives, Inchcape Shipping Services said. The authority gave no timetable for refloating efforts.Around 200,000 Animals Stranded (Sunday, London 2:30 p.m.)About 200,000 animals could be stranded in the ships held up at the canal, according to an estimate from advocacy group Animals International. The group has tallied 18 vessels that departed Romania, Spain and South America and are currently stuck in the queue. Many are likely carrying sheep, said European Union director Gabriel Paun. Vessels can’t easily unload animals in other nearby countries due to health protocols or a lack of trade agreements, he said.“It’s just another incident which shows that no matter which contingency plan you design, tragedies may occur over and over as long as we don’t replace the export of live animals with the export of refrigerated and frozen meat,” Paun said.Ever Given’s Front Was Damaged; Now Stable (Sunday, London 12:40 p.m.)The ship’s front, or bow, was damaged and water entered two tanks, according to a spokesman for Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, the vessel’s manager.High-powered pumps were used to get the water out the compartments and the vessel is stable, said the spokesman. Once the Ever Given’s moved, there will be an assessment to determine whether it’s fit to leave the canal. There’s nothing at the moment to suggest it won’t be able to sail out the waterway, the spokesman said.Authorities Prepare to Off-load Ship (Sunday, London 12:15 p.m.)Osama Rabie, head of the Suez Canal Authority, told television channel Arabiya that he was preparing for the option of lightening the vessel by removing containers. But he hopes it won’t be necessary as it would be difficult and protracted.Canal Authority Dredges to 18 meters (Sunday, London 11:30 a.m.)The Suez Canal Authority said in a statement it’s so far shifted 27,000 cubic meters of sand around the ship to reach a depth of 18 meters.Syrian Oil Supplies Delayed (Sunday, London 10:30 a.m.)Syria’s oil ministry said the stranded ship has delayed the arrival of a tanker carrying fuel to the country. The government is rationing supplies as a result. “Waiting for the return of normal movement of navigation via the Suez Canal may take an unknown time,” it said.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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