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From the News Desk: Suez and the future of shipping

The unexpected closure of the Suez Canal has highlighted shipping’s importance to world trade. Its effects will still be felt long after the ship is freed

As efforts continue to free the Ever Given, we compile the main takeaways from a week of chaos to global supply chains. Lloyd’s List is following every twist and turn

THE full extent and cost of the Ever Given grounding will not be known until long after the ship is freed and an investigation carried out.

But the blockage of the Suez Canal could have far-reaching implications for the shipping industry and the global economy.

On Monday there were signs of hope as the ship was partially refloated, with 372 ships waiting to transit the canal, according to Lloyd's List Intelligence data.

Container lines warned of higher short-term rates for shipping and months of disruption for customers even after it is reopened. Asia-US east coast rates have surged.

Hundreds of ships are delayed behind the giant containership as salvors wait for tides, tug boats, suction dredgers and diggers to free it.

Ever Given’s sister ship Ever Greet (IMO9832729) was the first to change course and take the longer route around the Cape of Good Hope. On Friday more boxships committed to the 10-day detour. About five dry bulkers have also rerouted.

How did this happen? More details will emerge, but our containers editor James Baker argues “plain old navigation errors” may be to blame.

The Lloyd’s List Podcast asks whether the super-sized casualty will prompt a rethink of the industry’s infatuation with megaships. The verdict: bigger ships create bigger problems.

Meanwhile, dry bulk ships in the panamax and supramax segments are set to gain most from the traffic jam as fewer vessels are available because of delays, driving freight rates up for the rest.

The effects on tankers were more muted, but a prolonged blockage could limit supplies of oil products from Europe and the Mediterranean to Asia.

The same is true for LNG tankers, where the off-peak season is expected to cushion the hit to supply.

Those waiting for new cars are not so lucky: by Thursday some 85,000 cars were held up as the vessels carrying them joined the gridlock.

And for insurers, the Ever Given is shaping up as one of the most significant marine casualties in recent years, despite there being no loss of life or pollution.

But as our leading article points out, shipping “has always coped in the past, and will cope again”.

Check Lloyd’s List and follow us on Twitter for more updates, or request a demo.

Sign up now for the second webinar in the Lloyd's List Future of Shipping programme. Across the year, The Future of Shipping series will gather industry leaders, policy-makers, investors, financiers and sector experts to offer a unique programme of informed analysis and intelligent debate. For more information, to watch the first webinar on digitalisation on-demand and to register for the other events in the series, follow this link.

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