Tag Archives: Suez

The great British garden-gnome famine: Elf is on the way after Suez Canal snarl-up & Covid deprive UK of beloved ornaments

Supply chain issues arising from the Covid-19 pandemic and the latest accident in the Suez Canal have led to a nationwide shortage of garden gnomes in Britain, as lawn-ornament figurines are selling like hotcakes during lockdowns.

Garden centres were open during all the three lockdowns in the country, encouraging a real boom in sales of lawn gnomes and other outdoor furniture when Brits were forced to stick to their homes.

“We haven’t seen a gnome in six months now, unfortunately,” Ian Byrne, assistant manager of Highfield Garden World in Whitminster, told the BBC, stressing that the retailer had seen a “massive upswing” in sales of lawn ornaments.
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Garden centres in Britain and all across Europe are reportedly booming, causing inevitable issues with supply that are becoming even more complicated because of the latest accident in the Suez Canal. In March, the centres were reportedly 97% busier compared to same period in 2019.

“Raw materials are becoming a bit of an issue and unfortunately gnomes are a victim of that shortage of supply. Gnomes of any type, plastic, stone or concrete, are in short supply,” Byrne said, adding that the figurines have gained huge popularity over the last couple of seasons.

Last month, the Suez Canal, one of the world’s crucial waterways, remained blocked for six days after the 400-meter container vessel ‘Ever Given’ got stuck there. The blockage of the trade artery, which accounts for about 15% of global shipping traffic, reportedly cost global trade $ 10 billion a week, putting supply chains, already hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, under immense pressure.
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Logistics companies were forced to reroute some ships, thus increasing their losses.

“With goods arriving from abroad, garden centres were affected by the ship getting stuck in the canal as much as any other industry. Garden furniture, ornaments, of which gnomes would be some, being stuck in containers trying to come over here,” Garden Centre Association chief executive Iain Wylie told the media.

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This article originally appeared on RT Business News

Suez Canal blockage proves relevance of alternative Russia-Iran-India trade route, Foreign Minister Lavrov says

The traffic jam in the Suez Canal that threatened to further shatter global trade has shown the importance of alternative routes, like the one linking Russia and India via Iran, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

The multinational trade link, officially known as the North–South International Transport Corridor (ITC), is one of the major infrastructure projects in the region, the Russian diplomat said in a recent interview to IRNA news agency. He added that the route could be a “basis for the creation of a single ‘seamless’ transport, logistics, and economic space” between Iran and Russia, which will host most of the corridor’s land route.
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“Addressing such a task appears especially relevant at the moment when the recent incident with the blocking of the Suez Canal has highlighted the need for reliable land transport routes,” Lavrov said. 

In March, the narrow but vital waterway along Egypt, which accounts for about 15% of global shipping traffic, remained blocked for six days after a massive container ship got stuck there. The blockage of the shipping artery resulted in losses for shippers and forced some to reroute their vessels. It also put more pressure on supply chains, which were previously crippled by the coronavirus pandemic. 
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Both Russia and Iran have been investing in infrastructure projects that are necessary for the implementation of the North–South ITC. According to Lavrov, Russia launched relevant plans and programs, including for the Caspian Sea region. Meanwhile, Tehran is building approaches to the Anzali Free Trade Zone, which has maritime links with ports in the Caspian Sea basin.

“This will substantially boost the competitiveness of the North–South ITC and its attractiveness for shippers,” the foreign minister noted. 

The 7,200-kilometer-long trade route is set to connect Russia, India, Iran and Azerbaijan. Trade via the North–South ITC is expected to benefit companies, allowing them to lower shipping times and cut transportation costs.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

This article originally appeared on RT Business News

Russia may offer effective alternative to Suez Canal, and it’s NOT Northern Sea Route – tycoon 

Russia’s Arctic sea route is not the only alternative Russia could provide to the Suez Canal, which was blocked for six days in March, forcing global carriers to reroute ships and challenging international supply chains.

Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska expressed the hope that Russian Railways, the country’s state-run monopoly, would take a fresh look at the country’s transportation services in the light of the catastrophic event on one of the world’s most important waterways.

According to the businessman, Russia has several projects that could easily become an adequate substitute for the Egyptian canal, the most important of which is the upgrading of the Trans-Siberian Railway, connecting Moscow with the Russian Far East.
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“China doubled cargo-trafficked goods by rail through Russia and Asia in the first two months of the current year, as rising prices and the long sea delivery are forcing Beijing to increase rail transportation,” the founder of the world’s second-largest aluminum company said on Telegram.

He added that the blockage of the Suez Canal should persuade the international community to rapidly develop railway transportation from Asia to Europe.

“The most obvious and economically justified goal is to turn Russia into a major hub that could become a fully functional link between Europe and Asia,” Deripaska said.
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The Suez Canal, which accounts for about 15% of all shipping traffic, was blocked when the 400-meter container vessel ‘Ever Given’ was grounded across the waterway. The blockage placed immense pressure on supply chains, and could reportedly have cost global trade up to $ 10 billion a week.

Deripaska stressed that the reconstruction of the key railway line, the so-called ‘Siberian Cedar Road,’ could even become a competitive alternative to the new Chinese ‘Silk Road’ connecting central Asia with Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

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Eurozone manufacturing soars to all-time high, but Suez crisis aftermath to challenge supply chains

In March, factory activity in the euro area reached a record 24-year high, according to a business survey carried out by the research firm IHS Markit.

IHS Markit’s final Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which is considered a good gauge of economic health, showed it had jumped to 62.5 in March from February’s 57.9, way ahead of the projected 62.4. The surge marks the highest reading since June 1997, when the survey began.
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All the members of the single-currency area demonstrated readings above 50, which separates growth from contraction. All-time highs were set in Germany and the Netherlands, and activity in two countries, Italy and France, soared to 20-year peaks.

Meanwhile, an index measuring output, which is recorded in a composite PMI, grew to 63.3 from 57.6 in the previous month. The input price index increased from 79.7 from 73.9 – the highest in a decade.

“Eurozone manufacturing is booming. Although centered on Germany, which saw a particularly strong record expansion during the month, the improving trend is broad based across the region, as factories benefit from rising domestic demand and resurgent export growth,” Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit said, cited by Reuters.
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While record rises in output and new orders allowed European producers to raise their average prices more than at any point in the past 10 years, supply chains were enormously challenged by shortages and logistic disruptions. Moreover, delays caused and exacerbated by the Suez Canal blockage may continue into April.

“While the forces driving prices higher appear to be temporary, linked to the initial rebound from Covid-19 lockdowns, any further upward pressure on firms’ costs and selling prices is unwelcome,” the analyst said.

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Oil sinks as Suez Canal container ship successfully refloated

The price of crude oil slumped more than 2% on Monday following news from the Suez Canal that salvage crews have managed to move the giant container ship that has been blocking the vital global trade passage for nearly a week.

International benchmark Brent fell 2.1% to $ 63.19 a barrel while US West Texas Intermediate dropped 2.4% to $ 59.49 per barrel. 

The stranded ‘Ever Given’ ship was successfully refloated on March 29 and was being secured, a global provider of marine services, Inchcape Shipping, said on Twitter.

The breakthrough came after intensive efforts that saw 10 tugboats work to push and pull the ship as several dredgers vacuumed up the sand at spring tide. It’s still unclear when the canal will reopen for traffic now that the vessel has been dislodged, Inchcape Shipping added.

The 224,000-ton container has been stuck and clogging up the waterway since Tuesday last week after it lost the ability to steer amid massive winds and a sandstorm. The incident caused the temporary suspension of navigation in the Suez Canal, delaying hundreds of other container ships, bulk carriers and oil-laden tankers.

Oil prices have swung wildly since then as traders and investors tried to weigh the impact of the blockage of the trade transit point. According to a senior market analyst at OANDA, Jeffrey Halley, oil market volatility is set to continue.

“Given the volatility last week, Brent looks set to move to the lower end of its $ 60.00 to $ 65.00 a barrel range,” he said as quoted by Reuters. US oil is “likely to drop to the lower side of its $ 57.50 to $ 62.50 a barrel weekly range.”
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Analysts say that prices are getting some support from expectations that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies will maintain lower output levels when they meet this week.

“With the Suez and OPEC+ uncertainties on top of a foggy demand picture, we may see big mood swings and high intraday volatility,” Vandana Hari, founder of consultancy Vanda Insights, told Bloomberg, adding, “I don’t see how OPEC+, or the Saudis, could risk putting more oil into the market after the downward pressure on crude of the past fortnight.”

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Jeremy Clarkson quips 'accident-prone' co-star is 'responsible' for Suez Canal crisis

“We were in Egypt last week, trying to get from Port Said, on the Mediterranean, to the small village of Abu Sultan, on the Red Sea.”

He went on to describe the choices of vehicles he, Hammond and James May chose in order to embark on their journey, and strongly implied that one of his co-stars might have had something to do with the crisis.

“I chose a dune buggy and went through the desert, James May used a steam train and went through Saudi Arabia,” he continued.

“And the accident-prone Richard Hammond took command of a container ship called Ever Given and attempted to make the journey using the Suez Canal.”

Suez Canal latest: Container ship stuck 'partially refloated'

SUEZ, Egypt — A canal services firm says that salvage teams have “partially refloated” the colossal container ship that remains wedged across the Suez Canal, without providing further details about when the vessel would be set free.Leth Agencies said early Monday that the modest breakthrough came after intensive efforts to push and pull the ship with 10 tugboats and vacuum up sand with several dredgers at spring tide. The firm said it was awaiting confirmation of the refloating from the Suez Canal Authority.

RELATED: Ship stuck in Suez Canal may cause gas prices to go up, experts say[1]Lt. Gen. Osama Rabei, the head of the Suez Canal Authority, said workers continued “pulling maneuvers” to refloat the vessel early Monday.

Satellite data from MarineTraffic.com showed the ship in the same position, surrounded by a squadron of tugboats with its bow stuck in the canal’s eastern bank.

MORE: How did the Suez Canal cargo ship get stuck? What we know about blockage, effect on supply chain[2]

The skyscraper-sized Ever Given became stuck in the Suez Canal last Tuesday and has held up $ 9 billion in global trade each day, bringing disruption to the vital waterway. Already, hundreds vessels remained trapped in the canal waiting to pass, carrying everything from crude oil to cattle. Over two dozen vessels have opted for the alternative route between Asia and Europe around the Cape of Good Hope, adding some two weeks to journeys and threatening delivery delays.

Previous coverage

Two additional tugboats sped Sunday to Egypt’s Suez Canal to aid efforts to free a skyscraper-sized container ship wedged for days across the crucial waterway, even as major shippers increasingly divert their boats out of fear the vessel may take even longer to free.

The massive Ever Given, a Panama-flagged, Japanese-owned ship that carries cargo between Asia and Europe, got stuck Tuesday in a single-lane stretch of the canal. In the time since, authorities have been unable to remove the vessel and traffic through the canal – valued at over $ 9 billion a day – has been halted, further disrupting a global shipping network already strained by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dutch-flagged Alp Guard and the Italian-flagged Carlo Magno, called in to help tugboats already there, reached the Red Sea near the city of Suez early Sunday, satellite data from MarineTraffic.com showed. The tugboats will nudge the 400-meter-long (quarter-mile-long) Ever Given as dredgers continue to vacuum up sand from underneath the vessel and mud caked to its port side, said Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, which manages the Ever Given.

Excavators dug Sunday on the eastern wall of the Suez Canal, hoping to free the bulbous bow of the Ever Given that plowed into the embankment, satellite photos showed.

Workers planned to make two attempts Sunday to free the vessel coinciding with high tides helped by a full moon Sunday night, a top pilot with the canal authority said. The full moon offers a spring tide, or king tide, in which high tides are higher and the low tides are lower because of the effects of gravity during a straight-line alignment of the Earth, the moon and the sun.”Sunday is very critical,” the pilot said. “It will determine the next step, which highly likely involves at least the partial offloading of the vessel.”

Taking containers off the ship likely would add even more days to the canal’s closure, something authorities have been desperately trying to avoid. It also would require a crane and other equipment that have yet to arrive.

The pilot spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to brief journalists.

On Saturday, the head of the Suez Canal Authority told journalists that strong winds were “not the only cause” for the Ever Given running aground, appearing to push back against conflicting assessments offered by others. Lt. Gen. Osama Rabei said an investigation was ongoing but did not rule out human or technical error.

Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement maintains that their “initial investigations rule out any mechanical or engine failure as a cause of the grounding.” However, at least one initial report suggested a “blackout” struck the hulking vessel carrying some 20,000 containers at the time of the incident.

Rabei said he remained hopeful that dredging could free the ship without having to resort to removing its cargo, but added that “we are in a difficult situation, it’s a bad incident.”

Asked about when they expected to free the vessel and reopen the canal, he said: “I can’t say because I do not know.”

Speaking on Sunday to the pro-government Egyptian television channel Extra News, Rabei said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi had ordered the canal authority to prepare for all options, including taking containers off of the vessel. He said officials had been in talks with the U.S. about that possibility, without elaborating.

Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., the company that owns the vessel, said it was considering removing containers if other refloating efforts failed.

The Ever Given is wedged about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) north of the canal’s Red Sea entrance near the city of Suez.A prolonged closure of the crucial waterway would cause delays in the global shipment chain. Some 19,000 vessels passed through the canal last year, according to official figures. About 10% of world trade flows through the canal. The closure could affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East. Already, Syria has begun rationing the distribution of fuel in the war-torn country amid concerns of delays of shipments arriving amid the blockage.

As of early Sunday, over 320 ships waited to travel through the Suez, either to the Mediterranean or the Red Sea, according to canal services firm Leth Agencies. At least 10 of those vessels carried livestock, raising concerns about the animals. Rabei told the Saudi-owned satellite news channel Al-Arabiya that authorities planned to offer provisions to help them.

Dozens of others still listed their destination as the canal, though shippers increasingly appear to be avoiding the passage.

The world’s biggest shipping company, Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk, warned its customers that it would take anywhere from three to six days to clear the backlog of vessels at the canal. Already, the firm and its partners have 27 ships waiting to enter the canal, with three stuck in the waterway itself and two more coming Sunday.

“We have until now redirected 15 vessels where we deemed the delay of sailing around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa equal to the current delay of sailing to Suez and queuing.” the shipper said.

Mediterranean Shipping Co., the world’s second-largest shipper, said it already had rerouted at least 11 ships around the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the canal. It turned back two other ships and said it expected “some missed sailings as a result of this incident.”

“MSC expects this incident to have a very significant impact on the movement of containerized goods, disrupting supply chains beyond the existing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said.


Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writers Isabel DeBre and Malak Harb in Dubai contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.


Global carriers forced to reroute ships to avoid massive Suez Canal traffic jam

Around a dozen tankers and container ships have been diverted from the Suez Canal as leading transport companies are looking for alternative routes to avoid the vital trade artery along Egypt that remains blocked.

Two container ships operated by French shipping and logistics giant CMA CGM Group changed course and were heading towards the Cape of Good Hope, the company revealed on Saturday. At the same time, the group is considering alternative maritime, rail, and air routes for cargo yet to be loaded, while at least 10 of its ships were still waiting to pass through the narrow but vital waterway.
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At least 10 vessels, including oil tankers and liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers, also changed course not to get stuck in the logjam in the Suez Canal, CNBC reported. According to MarineTraffic spokesman Georgios Hatzimanolis, Cheniere and Shell tankers were heading towards the Cape of Good Hope like some of the ships operated by CMA CGM Group.

Read more Russia promotes Arctic sea route as viable alternative to blocked Suez Canal

“From Asia to Europe we are seeing ships divert in the Indian Ocean, just below the southern tip of Sri Lanka,” he told CNBC, adding that the number of diverted ships could rise if the situation drags on.

The Suez Canal – an important global shipping route accounting for about 15% of world shipping traffic – has been blocked since Tuesday, when one of the world’s largest container ships, the Ever Given, got stuck there. The blockage of the waterway has put more pressure on already strained supply chains, and could cost global trade up to $ 10 billion a week, according to German insurer Allianz.

However, not all companies are rushing to reroute their vessels. Over 300 ships carrying various cargoes are still waiting to pass the 193km (120 mile) canal, as an alternate route may add up to two weeks to their journeys and send shipping costs soaring.

Tugboats and dredgers have been working to free the 400-meter-long ship, and it finally moved on Saturday evening. While strong tides and winds are complicating the work to dislodge the giant vessel, Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Chairman Osama Rabie said on Saturday that he expects the ship could slide and move from the spot it’s in at any moment.

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Egypt may offer discounts for ships left stranded by Suez Canal blockage

The state-owned authority operating the Suez Canal is considering some financial initiatives for vessels that were unable to pass through the vital waterway blocked by a skyscraper-sized container ship.

The Ever Given, which has been stuck in the canal since Tuesday, created a backlog of nearly 370 vessels, including 25 oil tankers, Osama Rabie, head of the Suez Canal Authority, told Al Arabiya on Sunday. He added that the authority is working to meet the logistical needs of the stuck vessels and may provide discounts for them. Rabie did not elaborate on the details of the initiative, and it is unclear which ships would qualify for it. 

The blockage costs the canal $ 13-14 million in lost revenue daily, he said.
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The operation to free one of the world’s biggest container ships made some progress over the weekend. More than 20,000 tons of sand and mud were removed, allowing the Ever Given’s bow and stern to be loosened. The rescue operation continued on Sunday, but it is still unclear when traffic through the Suez Canal will fully resume. Some carriers have already diverted their ships from the waterway to avoid the gridlock.

However, the authorities are bracing for the worst. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ordered that preparations be made to remove some of the ship’s cargo to help refloat it, Rabie said. It was initially hoped that this type of operation could be avoided, at it would require more time.

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Thousands of animals aboard cargo ships could die if Suez Canal remains blocked, NGO warns

As efforts to dislodge the huge container ship stuck in the Suez Canal intensified Saturday, an animal-rights nonprofit is airing concerns over animals trapped in cargo vessels.

Ships carrying livestock destined for different countries in Europe and Asia are among the billions of dollars worth of vital cargo and sensitive products backlogged on the vessels whose way is blocked.

The EU director of NGO Animals International Gabriel Paun warned that thousands of animals being transported on 13 vessels — mostly Romanian — could be at risk of dying if the situation is not resolved in the next few days.

More ships carrying livestock are currently approaching the Suez Canal, Paun said.

“We are sitting in front of a major tragedy if the channel is not released in the next 24 hours because there are vessels that will run out of [livestock] food and water in the next two days,” Paun said.

Some ships have food and water for six more days and “if decide today to return to Romania, then they have a chance — but if the blockade lasts between two and six more days we will have a disaster,” Paun added.

One ship carrying livestock, the Nabolsi, has been sailing for 21 days after departing from Colombia on March 6, and is now awaiting passage by the blocked canal with animals on board, Marine Traffic spokesman Georgios Hatzimanolis said.

Each day that passes comes at a high cost to companies and countries whose trade has been held up by the gridlock. About 12% of the world trade volume passes through the Suez Canal, and it usually handles about $ 10 billion a day in cargo.

More than 18,800 ships with a net tonnage of 1.17 billion tonnes passed through the canal during 2020. That’s an average of 51.5 ships per day.

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ABC Owned TV Stations contributed to this report.