Ever Given Suez Canal
This satellite imagery released by Maxar Technologies shows the MV Ever Given container ship in the Suez Canal on the morning of March 28, 2021. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: Egypt’s Suez Canal has accused owners of Ever Given, a giant container ship that blocked the vital waterway for almost a week in March, of inflexibility despite reducing a compensation claim from $950 million to $550 million.

“We have requested $550 million to be paid through facilities. The vessel has to pay $200 million in cash and the $350 million will be paid as letters of guarantee issued in an 'A class' bank,” chief of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Admiral Osama Rabie said.

“They [owners] do not appreciate what we did and our reflotation of the ship in a record time. They have not shown any understanding and want to pay $150 million although we initially demanded $950 million and later decreased the sum to $550 million,” he told private Egyptian TV station ON E Monday night.

An Egyptian appeals court Sunday upheld impounding Ever Given, anchored at the Great Lakes area in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia since freed on March 29, and referred the case to a lower court.

In April, a court in Ismailia ordered the seizure of the Panamanian-flagged Ever Given upon a request from the Suez Canal Authority amid a dispute between the two sides over a compensation settlement.

Ever Given, loaded with 18,000 containers, in March ran aground in the canal and blocked it for six days, causing daily losses estimated at 14 million dollars.

Rabie said the SCA does not seek to make gains through its compensation claim.

"We just seek to curb our losses. We used 15 tugboats in the rescue operation. The canal was also closed for six days. Moreover, 600 SCA personnel were engaged in the operation. Around 48 ships switched their direction from the canal as a resulting of the tanker grounding,” he added.

"Despite the long relations between the owning company and the authority [SCA], the company has not shown flexibility in making up for the losses that Ever Given grounding caused,” Rabie said.

Linking the Red and Mediterranean seas, the Suez Canal handles around 12 per cent of the world trade.