Meanwhile, the backlog of ships waiting to cross the vital Egyptian waterway has risen to 326, according to Leth Agencies, the canal service provider.
The Syrian Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources said that the closure of the Suez Canal “hindered oil supplies to Syria and delayed the arrival of a tanker carrying oil and its derivatives to Syria,” according to the state-run SANA news agency.
Amid concerns about fuel supplies, the Middle Eastern country was forced to legalize “the available quantities of petroleum derivatives, mainly diesel and gasoline, to ensure their bioavailability for the longest possible period,” SANA reported on Saturday.
This step came “in order to ensure the continued provision of basic services to Syrians, such as bakeries, hospitals, water stations, communication centers and other vital institutions,” according to SANA, quoting the ministry.
She added that Syria would continue rationing oil supplies until “the return of the normal shipping movement through the Suez Canal, which may take an unknown time.”
The Evergreen ship, a mammoth ship roughly the length of the Empire State Building, veered off the Egyptian Channel on Tuesday after being hit by 40-knot winds and a sandstorm. Authorities are also investigating potential human or technical errors.
The blockage, in one of the world’s busiest and most significant waterways, could have a major impact on already stretched global supply chains, with disruption escalating with each passing day.
A team of lifeguard experts from Dutch company SMIT Salvage and Japanese company Nippon Salvage – who have worked on several high-profile operations in the past – have been appointed to help the Suez Canal Authority resurface the vessel, the charter company Evergreen Marine. He said in a statement.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, the Chairman of the Securities and Commodities Authority, Osama Rabie, provided details of the rescue operation, which he described as “technically difficult” and “involving many factors.”
“We are facing a difficult and complicated situation … we work in rocky soil and the tides are very high, in addition to the huge size of the ship and the number of containers that make it difficult,” he said. “We cannot set a specific date for the ship to float, it depends on the ship’s response.”
Rabie said that about 9,000 tons of ballast water had been removed from the ship, as the dredging was carried out during the low tide while 14 locomotives operated during the high tide. He said rescue teams were able to restart the rudder and propellers temporarily on Friday night before the low tide halted their efforts.
A spokesperson for Boskalis, SMIT Salvage’s sister company, told CNN that two additional heavy boats are expected to arrive at Ever Given “probably early in the evening.”
Spokesman Martin Schutiver said the couple have a combined towing capacity of around 400 tons. Once the locomotives arrive, he said it could take a few hours to get them to Ever Given.
Pauskalis’ chief executive said Friday that he hopes the additional towing force of these two tugs – combined with dredging, a high tide of 40 to 50 cm, and the “lift force” of the stern is relatively free – could be sufficient to grab the container ship for free.
According to Boskalis, the crane that could be used to remove containers from the bow of the ship, should the plan fail, has yet to arrive.
On Saturday, Rabie described this scenario – which would lighten the ship’s cargo – as a painstaking and time-consuming process that “we hope” they will not have to resort to.
Rabei added that the causes of the accident are still not clear. “There are many factors or causes,” he said. “Fast winds and sandstorms might be a cause but not the main cause – it could be a technical error or a human error.” There will be more investigations. “
Meanwhile, billions of dollars of vital shipments and sensitive products accumulate on the hundreds of ships that have been blocked. Dozens of them carry cattle.
Gabriel Bowen, director of the European Union’s animal NGO, has warned that the thousands of animals being transported on board ships – most of them Romanians – could be in danger of dying if the situation is not resolved in the next few days.
CNN reporter Magdy Samaan wrote from Cairo and Muhammad Tawfiq from Baghdad, while Laura Smith wrote Spark in London. CNN’s Mostafa Salem and Meek Crever contributed to this report.