Egypt expects USD1B in damages over stuck ship in Suez

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt is expecting more than USD1 billion in compensation after a cargo ship blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week, according to the top canal official. He also warned the ship and its cargo will not be allowed leave Egypt if the issue of damages goes to court.

Head of the canal authority Lieutenant General Ossama Rabei said in a phone interview with a pro-government TV talk show on Wednesday that the amount takes into account the salvage operation, costs of stalled traffic, and lost transit fees for the week that the Ever Given had blocked the Suez Canal.

“It’s the country’s right,” Rabei said, without specifying who would be responsible for paying the compensation. He added that in the past, canal authorities and the ship’s owners have had a good relationship.

The massive cargo ship is currently in one of the canal’s holding lakes, where authorities and the ship’s managers said an investigation is ongoing.

On Thursday, the ship’s technical managers Bernard Schulte Shipmanagement, said in an email to The Associated Press that the ship’s crew was cooperating with authorities in their investigation into what led to the vessel running aground.

They said that Suez Canal Authority investigators have been given access to the Voyage Data Recorder, also known as a vessel’s black box.

Rabie also said that if an investigation went smoothly and the compensation amount was agreed on, then the ship could travel on without problems.

However, if the issue of compensation involved litigation, then the Ever Given and its some USD3.5 billion worth of cargo would not be allowed to leave Egypt, he told the show’s host.

Panama-flagged cargo ship Ever Given is seen in Great Bitter Lake, Egypt. PHOTO: AP