25 JUNE 2021
Representatives for ship owner Shoei Kisen Kaisha have reached a tentative agreement with the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) to secure the release of the boxship Ever Given, which has been held in Egyptian custody ever since she ran aground in the Suez Canal in March.
The vessel is carrying more than 18,000 TEU of containerized cargo with a combined value exceeding $600 million, and Egyptian authorities have prohibited her from offloading the goods or departing her anchorage. The SCA filed a claim against Shoei Kisen for about $900 million in damages – not for the grounding and salvage, which cost far less, but for alleged effects on business operations and reputation.
The authority has secured an Egyptian court order allowing it to seize the ship until the unusually large fine is paid. After extended negotiations and multiple court hearings, SCA lowered the penalty to $550 million, payable in installments. Talks between the vessel’s insurers, the owner and the SCA have continued since, with brief pauses in the court proceedings to allow time for discussion.
Shoei Kisen’s representative, Stann Marine, announced Wednesday that it has reached an agreement in principle with SCA to secure the vessel’s departure. The terms were not disclosed.
“We are now working with the SCA to finalize a signed settlement agreement as soon as possible,” said Stann Marine director Faz Peermohamed in a statement. “Once the formalities have been dealt with, arrangements for the release of the vessel will be made.”
According to Clyde & Co., a law firm representing the cargo interests, Ever Given will head directly to Rotterdam once she is ready to sail. When she finally arrives, cargo owners will have to pay a general average bond (a percentage of the value of their goods) to cover the costs of the ship’s salvage.
The Ever Given ran aground in the southern section of the Suez Canal on March 23, blocking the waterway for six days. Her hull spanned the canal’s full width, preventing the passage of merchant traffic, and dozens of ships with billions of dollars’ worth of cargo were delayed. Egyptian salvors finally freed her using a novel combination of dredging and towing.