Suez Canal Ship Blockage Could Cause Worldwide Toilet Paper Shortage
The ship blocking Egypt’s Suez Canal could trigger a worldwide toilet paper shortage, it has been claimed.
Walter Schalka, the CEO of Suzano SA, said the Brazilian wood pulp producer is struggling to transport the raw material for toilet paper due to delays caused by the blockage.
The Ever Given, a ship that is almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall, has been blocking the manmade waterway since Tuesday, March 23.
Connecting Asia and Africa, the canal is a major route of goods transportation, with 12% of all global trade passing through its waters.
Schalka told Bloomberg News that it could now disrupt toilet paper production.
‘With demand surging for ships that carry ribbed steel containers, the squeeze is starting to spill over to break bulk and threatens to delay the company’s shipments,’ Walka said.
This disruption to the pulp trade will have a knock-on effect on supplies of toilet paper if companies don’t have the material to make it.
Authorities have been working to refloat the vessel but so far efforts have been unsuccessful. One approach that is now being used is dredging.
A dutch company, Boskalis, has been called in to dig up sand and mud surrounding the ship’s hull. CEO of the company, Peter Berdowski, told BBC News he believes it could take weeks to free the vessel.
Lars Jensen, the CEO of Sea Intelligence Consulting, who has been following the events, has urged companies to consider alternative routes.
‘The longer the canal is closed, the larger a queue of vessels will be lined up to transit. This can create a backlog meaning that additional waiting times must be anticipated even when the canal does open up again,’ he said in a LinkedIn post.
He said if the vessel is freed within the next few days, the impact on companies will be minimal as they usually factor in a few days of delay when scheduling cargo.
Yesterday, the Japanese owner of Ever Given issued an apology for the disruption to global trade.
Shoei Kisen Kaisha said it was trying to refloat the ship but facing extreme difficulty, BBC News reports.
‘In co-operation with local authorities and Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, a vessel management company, we are trying to refloat [the Ever Given], but we are facing extreme difficulty. We sincerely apologise for causing a great deal of worry to ships in the Suez Canal and those planning to go through the canal,’ the company said.
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