SCA Reduces its Payment Demands for Ever Given's Release
The negotiations between shipowner Shoei Kisen Kaisha and the Suez Canal Authority over the release of the boxship Ever Given have begun to produce signs of movement, with the SCA reducing the amount of its payment demand and signaling its willingness to accept a reduced deposit.
In March, Ever Given grounded on both banks of the southern Suez Canal, creating a six-day stoppage for billions of dollars in trade. After the casualty, she was detained for an investigation, and the SCA obtained a court order to seize Ever Given and her cargo pending payment of an extraordinary $916 million fine. To date, according to SCA chairman Osama Rabie, Shoei Kisen has offered a maximum of $150 million to settle SCA's claims - far less than the authority's initial demand.
In an appeal filed in an Egyptian court, Shoei Kisen's lawyers have argued that SCA was responsible for the casualty by allowing Ever Given to enter the southern stretch of the canal during a windstorm. The filing sought the vessel's release and a small $100,000 payment from SCA as compensation. The court swiftly rejected the appeal, and the case will now go to a higher court for further review.
Outside of the courtroom, the negotiations over Ever Given's fate continue. On Tuesday, SCA confirmed that it would be willing to reduce its claim to $550 million - down from a previous compromise amount of $600 million - and would let the vessel go if Shoei Kisen and its insurers would post an initial $200 million deposit. SCA emphasized its continued "flexibility" during the negotiations and its longstanding relationship with Shoei Kisen, whose ships frequently pass through the canal.
The standoff has significant implications for the owners of Ever Given's cargo, who cannot access their goods until the SCA gives permission. To offload any significant fraction of her 15,000 TEU of cargo, Ever Given would have to transit to a terminal with large shoreside cranes; for now, she remains waiting at anchor in the Great Bitter Lake.