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Settlement Is Reached Over Stuck Ship That Blocked Suez Canal in Egypt

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CAIRO — The owner and insurers of the enormous container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for six days in March and disrupted global shipping have reached a settlement with the Egyptian authorities, one of the insurers said on Wednesday.

The insurer’s statement did not specify the amount, but said that once the settlement was formalized, the ship — after nearly three months of haggling, finger-pointing and court hearings — would finally complete its journey through the canal.

“Following extensive discussions with the Suez Canal Authority’s negotiating committee over the past few weeks, an agreement in principle between the parties has been reached,” said a statement from the insurer UK P&I Club. “Together with the owner and the ship’s other insurers we are now working with the S.C.A. to finalize a signed settlement agreement as soon as possible.”

A spokesman for the UK Club said it would not be releasing further details. The Suez Canal Authority had not commented on the deal by Wednesday afternoon.

Since the ship was freed in a huge salvage effort in March, about six days after running aground across the Suez, the canal authority had been locked in an often acrimonious standoff with the ship’s owner and operators over what the authority said it was owed for the incident.

The authority had sought up to $1 billion in compensation, a figure that included the cost of tugboats, dredgers and crews hired to salvage the ship as well as the loss of revenue while the canal was blocked. During the delay, some ships U-turned and headed around the tip of Africa rather than wait for Suez traffic to resume, depriving the canal of their fees.

Under the standard terms that shipping companies are required to accept before traversing the Suez Canal, ships are liable for all costs or losses they cause in the canal. Still, the authority never provided a detailed breakdown of how it had arrived at such a large amount.

Nada Rashwan contributed reporting.


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