Egypt could be lining up a $1bn claim in damages after the 20,388 teu Ever Given giant container vessel caused a headline grabbing traffic jam in the Suez Canal for almost a week.
Ossama Rabei, the head of Suez Canal Authority, told Egypt’s Sada ElBalad news channel he estimates the $1bn figure would compensate for losses associated with transit fees, damage to the waterway during the dredging and salvage efforts, and the cost of equipment and labour.
Taiwan’s Evergreen Marine, the charterer of the 2018-built Ever Given, said it is not accountable for delays of any cargo it was transporting and that it expects minor costs for potential loss and damage arising from the blockage of the waterway.
“Our risk exposure to the incident is very, very low,” Evergreen president Eric Hsieh was quoted on local news in Taiwan on Thursday.
“We are only responsible for the carriage of cargoes onboard. Even if we have some claims, those will be covered by insurance,” Hsieh said.
Evergreen has said that the Japanese shipowner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha, would be responsible for any costs including the potential claims from Egypt and third-party liabilities based on its charter arrangement.
Meanwhile, Shoei Kisen has declared General Average. Reports say that Richard Hogg Lindley has been appointed as adjuster.
The Ever Given was refloated on March 29, and towed to the Great Bitter Lake for inspection. The Suez Canal Authority is looking into the incident. Rabei said the ship’s captain has yet to respond to several demands by the canal authority, including surrender of the voyage data recorder and documents sought for the investigation.
The backlog of vessels waiting to transit Suez is now expected to be cleared over the weekend. As for the Ever Given, it could be held in Egypt if the matter of compensation goes to court, however Rabie believes that such a scenario is unlikely.