U.S. offers to help open Suez Canal, sees potential impact on energy market

Energy News

This photo released by the Suez Canal Authority on Friday, March 26, 2021, shows the Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, after it become wedged across the Suez Canal and blocking traffic in the vital waterway. Tugboats and a specialized suction dredger worked Friday to dislodge a giant container ship that has been stuck sideways in Egypt’s Suez Canal for the past three days, blocking a crucial waterway for global shipping.
Suez Canal Authority | AP

The White House said Friday that the U.S. has offered to help Egypt in its ongoing efforts to free a massive cargo ship stuck in the Suez Canal.

“We are tracking the situation very closely,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters, noting that the blockage appears to be taking a toll on energy markets.

“As part of our active diplomatic dialogue with Egypt, we’ve offered U.S. assistance to Egyptian authorities to help reopen the canal,” Psaki said.

“We are consulting with our Egyptian partners about how we can best support their efforts. So those conversations are ongoing and hopefully we’ll have more to say about that soon,” she said.

The Ever Given, one of the world’s largest shipping vessels, has blocked all traffic along the critical trade route since running aground more than three days earlier.

At about 400 meters in length, the ship is nearly as long as the Empire State Building is high.

Commercial cargo and container ships ride anchor while waiting to transit the Suez Canal in Ismailia, Egypt, on Thursday, March 25, 2021.
Islam Safwat | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Some fear it could take weeks to clear the canal, which handles around 12% of global trade. That prospect is starting to impact the economy and disrupt international supply chains.

“We do see some potential impacts on energy markets from the role of the Suez Canal as a key bidirectional transit route for oil, and obviously that’s one of the reasons we offered assistance from the United States,” Psaki said Friday.

“We are in close consultation with the Egyptians about that,” Psaki said, adding, “We’re going to continue to monitor market conditions and we will respond appropriately if necessary, but it is something we’re watching closely.”

A map shows a traffic jam in the Suez Canal, Egypt March 25, 2021.
MarineTraffic | Reuters

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