Norwegian shipowners were breathing a sigh of relief Monday morning, after news broke that a huge containership that ran aground and blocked the Suez Canal last week had been freed. More than 300 ships have been waiting at both ends of the important waterway to get through.
News bureaus reported that it will take several days before shipping traffic can resume as normal. Harald Fotland, operations director at Norwegian shipowning firm Odfjell, nonetheless told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that “we are very, very glad.” The alternative shipping route between Asia and Europe requires sailing all around Africa, which takes around two- to three weeks longer and costs several hundred thousand US dollars more.
Shipping rates, calculated in US dollars, typically shoot up when Suez is closed. That can generate windfall profits for shipbrokers who arrange cargoes for oil tanker owners, for example, but it adds to costs for shippers and consumers alike. Delays through Suez continue to loom but oil tanker rates may now decline again and shipping may return to normal by the end of the week.