[CAIRO] A megaship which blocked Egypt's Suez Canal and crippled world trade for nearly a week has been 'seized' on court orders until the vessel's owners pay US$900 million, canal authorities said Tuesday.
The MV "Ever Given was seized due to its failure to pay US$900 million" compensation, Suez Canal Authority chief Osama Rabie was quoted as saying by Al-Ahram, a state-run newspaper.
The Japanese-owned, Taiwanese operated and Panama flagged vessel got diagonally stuck in the narrow but crucial global trade artery in a sandstorm on March 23, setting in motion a mammoth six-day-long effort by Egyptian personnel and international salvage specialists to dislodge it.
Maritime data company Lloyd's List said the blockage had held up an estimated US$9.6 billion worth of cargo each day between Asia and Europe.
The canal is economically vital to Egypt, which lost between US$12 and US$15 million in revenues for each day the waterway was closed, according to the canal authority.
The US$900 million compensation figure was calculated based on "the losses incurred by the grounded vessel as well as the flotation and maintenance costs, according to a court ruling handed down by the Ismailia Economic Court," Mr Rabie added.
He did not explicitly cite the Japanese owners Shoei Kisen Kaisha, but a different source at the SCA told AFP Tuesday that negotiations over damages between that company, insurance firms and the canal authority were ongoing.
In its court filing, the SCA referred to Articles 59 and 60 of Egypt's maritime trade law which stipulates that the ship would remain seized until the amount is paid in full, Al-Ahram said.
The MV Ever Given was moved to unobstructive anchorage in Bitter Lake after it was freed on March 29, and tailbacks totalling 420 vessels at the northern and southern entrances to the canal were cleared in early April.
The Suez Canal earned Egypt just over US$5.7 billion in the 2019/20 fiscal year, according to official figures.