Singapore transport minister says Suez block may disrupt supplies to region

This photo released by the Suez Canal Authority on Thursday, March 25, 2021, shows Lt. Gen. Ossama Rabei, head of the Suez Canal Authority, investigating the situation with the Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, after it become wedged across the Suez Canal and blocking traffic in the vital waterway. An operation is underway to try to work free the ship, which further imperiled global shipping Thursday as at least 150 other vessels needing to pass through the crucial waterway idled waiting for the obstruction to clear. - AP

SINGAPORE, March 25 (Reuters): The transport minister of Singapore, the world's top transhipment hub, said on Thursday the blockage in the Suez Canal could temporarily disrupt supplies to the region.

"Should that happen, some draw down on inventories will become necessary," Ong Ye Kung said in a Facebook post, adding PSA, Singapore's port operator, may see schedule disruptions when shipping lines reroute their journeys.

"It will have to plan ahead and ensure that operations remain smooth," he said.

A container ship, almost as long as the Empire State Building is high, is blocking transit in both directions through the Suez Canal, one of the world's busiest shipping channels for oil and grain and other trade linking Asia and Europe.

Roughly 30% of the world's shipping container volume transits through the 193 km (120 mile) Suez Canal daily.

Meanwhile, salvage teams from the Netherlands and Japan have been hired to devise a plan to refloat a giant container ship blocking the suez canal, the company leasing the vessel said on Thursday.

Taiwan's Evergreen Marine Corp said Dutch firm Smit Salvage and Japan's Nippon Salvage had been appointed by the ship's owner and would work alongside its captain and the suez canal Authority on a plan to refloat it.

"Evergreen Line will continue to coordinate with the shipowner and suez canal Authority to deal with the situation with the utmost urgency, ensuring the resumption of the voyage as soon as possible and to mitigate the effects of the incident," Evergreen said in a statement.

"As the vessel is chartered, the responsibility for the expense incurred in the recovery operation; third party liability and the cost of repair (if any) is the owner's."

The Ever Given container ship, owned by Japan's Shoei Kisen, was grounded amid high winds in a southern section of the canal on Tuesday, forcing a suspension of shipping as tugs try to refloat it.
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