Suez Canal remains blocked, ships are choosing to go around Africa

The first ships choose to make a trip around Africa instead of sailing through the Suez Canal. That important route for World Trade is currently blocked by the stuck container ship, the Ever Given. Due to the lack of clarity about how long the congestion of the canal will take, some ships now choose the longer route via the Cape of Good Hope.

This results in weeks of additional sailing time, with additional costs and emissions as a result. Two liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers headed from the United States to Asia now seem to have changed course in the middle of the Atlantic to go via the Cape of Good Hope. Ships that are stuck in the Red Sea are exploring their options and can also choose to make the trip around Africa. This makes their travel time extended by up to two weeks.

Large companies, A. P. Møller-Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd say that their containers are routed via the Cape of Good Hope.

The attempts to get the 400 meter long and 224,000 ton Ever Given back on track continue. It is still unclear how long it will take to overcome the blockade of the important Egyptian waterway. The Dutch company Boskalis is involved in the salvage of the ship.

A detour around the Cape of Good Hope makes up for the thousands of miles of extra boat trip, and could be hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra costs for ships. Emissions will also increase if ships have to sail longer.

The 193 km long Suez Canal is one of the busiest waterways in the world, accounting for about 12 percent of global trade. It is the main shipping route between Asia and Europe. Many oil tankers from the Middle East also use the canal.

Russia is now using the congestion in the Suez Canal to promote the route via the Arctic Ocean between Asia and Europe as an alternative. On Twitter, the Russian state-owned nuclear power company Rosatom joked about the problems in the Suez Canal, and it is said that Russian nuclear icebreakers are ready to keep the Arctic Ocean route open for shipping. Although this route between Europe and Asia is much shorter than via the Suez Canal or around Africa, it is still rarely used.

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