Egypt Sounds Optimistic Tone About Ever Given Compensation Talks

Discussions between Egypt and the owners of the giant container ship that was stuck in the Suez Canal are moving in a “positive direction,” a canal official said Sunday, as the two sides work to avoid a continued stand-off in court.

Tokyo-based Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., the owner of the 400-meter-long Ever Given, “showed good intentions and appreciation to the Egyptian role” in rescuing the ship, Khaled Abu Bakr, the Suez Canal Authority chairman’s adviser told reporters in the city of Ismailia.

“I think that in the coming days or week, we might witness developments with regard to direct negotiations,” Abu Bakr said.

The comments come a day after an Egyptian court postponed a scheduled hearing to give the two sides time to reach a settlement to a case in which the SCA had initially sought compensation of $916 million.

The Panamanian-flagged vessel is currently being held in the Great Bitter Lake, and is barred from leaving by court order. The Ever Given was stuck in the vital waterway for nearly a week in March, forcing its closure and roiling shipping markets.

The two sides have been haggling over the compensation since the Ever Given was re-floated. The SCA has lowered the amount it’s seeking to $550 million - a figure which the vessel’s insurers say is still too high.

The authority will present a revised calculation for the cost of rescuing the ship during the next court session on June 20, Nabil Zidan, the attorney representing the SCA, told reporters Sunday.

Other key points from the press conference:

  • Recordings from the ship’s black box showed it was moving toward the canal’s right bank, and the captain sought to redirect it to the middle of the lane, Sayed Sheashaa, the SCA’s head of investigations said.
  • The captain issued eight orders in the span of 12 minutes, but the ship was slow to respond because of its size.
  • The captain then suddenly increased the speed in an effort to steer it to the middle of the lane; he lost control and the vessel got stuck, Sheashaa said.

About 50 ships a day pass through the canal, which can cut a voyage between Europe and Asia by two weeks.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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