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Ever Given 'Refloated' and Sailing in Suez Canal; Oil Prices Slip

Suez Canal authorities say Monday that traffic may resume shortly in the clogged trade artery following the successful refloating of the stranded Ever Given.

The Ever Given container ship was refloated in the Suez Canal, authorities said Monday, raising hopes that the 1,300-foot long vessel could soon be freed from its six-day grounding and allow for the re-opening of the world's busiest trade waterway. 

Oil prices remained volatile, however, amid concerns to the time it may take to clear the almost 400 ship backlog and expectations that OPEC members will hold their production cut agreement in place following their monthly meeting in Vienna later this week.

The Suez Canal Authority said Monday that around 80% of the refloating procedure had been completed on the Ever Given,  which ran around last Tuesday in strong winds, adding that rising tides should complete the effort and allow the 224,000 ton vessel to be towed out of its position in the northern portion of the narrow shipping path.

Around 10% of global trade by tonnage passes through the Suez Canal, including around 5.5 million barrels of crude, and an extended blockage could add even more pressure to global supply chains which are already stressed from COVID-related shortages and demand uncertainty.

Germany-based insurance giant Allianz estimated Friday that the blockage could cost global trade between $6 and $10 billion a week.

"Maneuvers are set to be resumed once more during high tide at 11:30 a.m.(5:30 am New York time) as it shall reach 2 meters, allowing for the full restoration of the vessel’s direction so it is positioned in the middle of the navigable waterway," the Suez Canal Authority said Monday. "His Excellency, Admiral Rabie, would like to reassure the international navigation society as navigation shall be resumed immediately upon the complete restoration of the vessel’s direction and directing it to the Bitter Lakes waiting area for technical inspection."

"His Excellency has also commended the efforts of the SCA workers who achieved this heroic feat saying that they have done their patriotic duty impeccably and that in all certainty work will be complete very soon," the statement added.

WTI crude futures for May delivery, the benchmark for U.S. oil and gas prices, were marked 14 cents lower on the session at $60.82 per barrel.

Brent crude contracts for May delivery, which are more tightly-aligned to global prices, were marked 20 cents per barrel lower at $64.38 per barrel.