The owners of the massive ship blocking the Suez Canal aim to refloat the vessel by Saturday night, hoping that a high tide and the further removal of sediment will finally dislodge it.
At a press conference Friday, Yukito Higaki, the president of Shoei Kisen which owns the Ever Given, said it was aiming to free the ship “tomorrow night Japan time,” according to a translation by the Nikkei news agency.
“We are continuing work to remove sediment as of now, with additional dredging tools,” he added, while apologizing for the “great trouble and concern” that the incident has caused.
Other media reports suggest at least two attempts will be made on Saturday to free the ship using the expected high tide. If that fails, then the rescue efforts will be bolstered on Sunday with two additional tugs arriving, joining the 10 already in operation at the scene.
Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, the Dutch technical manager working to free the Ever Given, said there have been no reports of pollution or cargo damage, and initial investigations rule out any mechanical or engine failure as a cause of the grounding.
“All 25 crew are safe and accounted for and they remain in good health and spirits. All crew are Indian nationals and remain onboard,” BSM said in a statement.
“They are working closely with all parties involved to re-float the vessel. The hard work and tireless professionalism of the Master and crew is greatly appreciated.”
The vessel, a 220,000-ton mega ship nearly a quarter-mile long with a 20,000 container capacity, ran aground after reportedly being blown by strong winds while entering Egypt’s Suez Canal from the Red Sea.
It’s completely blocked the passageway that is home to as much as 12% of the world’s seaborne trade and through which 50 container ships normally transit per day.
The shipping crisis, now in its fifth day, has added to anxieties over the global supply chain which had already been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Each day of blockage disrupts more than $9 billion worth of goods, according to Lloyd’s List, which translates to about $400 million per hour.
Some ship operators have already decided to re-route their vessels around Africa, anticipating that the Ever Given won’t be dislodged soon. A total of 237 vessels are waiting in the Suez Canal area, according to canal service provider Leth Agencies.
Oil and natural gas prices have risen due to the blockage, but some economists believe the impact will be short lived. “While there may be a temporary boost to commodity prices as freight is disrupted and ships are forced to divert around Africa, we don’t foresee any long-lasting implications. Countries will source commodities from elsewhere or draw down stocks until the canal re-opens,” the commodities team at Capital Economics said in a research note on Friday.
—CNBC’s Natasha Turak and Pippa Stevens contributed to this article.