With the blockage of one of the world’s most vital shipping arteries in the world, costs of the closure of the Suez Canal are rising daily.
Crews are now hoping to take advantage of the rising tides with Sunday’s full moon to help dislodge the 220,000-ton ship from its moorings.
On Saturday there was celebration that the ship did move about 100 feet after the rudder had been freed, as crews dug out the rear of the ship. With the help of 11 tugboats on Saturday, and two more expected on Sunday, a dredger has been capable of removing 2,000 cubic meters of material per hour under the bow of the massive ship.
The chairman of the Suez Canal Authority said that water had started running underneath the vessel.
“We expect that at any time the ship could slide and move from the spot it is in,” he told a news conference on Saturday.
Crews are determined to free the vessel this weekend, but their best chance may be on Monday, when in addition to high tides on Sunday, a spring tide may increase the canal’s water levels by 18 inches.
The blockage of the canal is expected to worsen shortages in the global supply chain. In the U.S., products such as toilet paper, coffee, and furniture are expected to be delayed.
Suzano, a Brazilian company that accounts for about a third of global supplies of hardwood pulp, which is used to make toilet paper, told Bloomberg the container crunch already poses the risk of supply snags.
A coffee shortage would mostly affect Europe but could ripple worldwide, and booming furniture sales amid the pandemic’s work-from-home trend have pushed back deliveries by months, a logjam worsened by congestion at California ports. About 1.9 million barrels of oil a day go through the canal, and the closure could affect shipments of oil and natural gas from the Mideast to Europe and nudge crude and gasoline prices higher.
The global shipping network has already been clogged due to COVID-19 slowdowns even while demand has been picking up with easing restrictions. Ports, warehouses, and trucking companies are dealing with worker shortages, and vaccine deliveries are adding to problems with shipping capacities. Containers are piling up at ports.