Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Osama Rabie said on Monday that Egypt has provided "facilitations" to ensure the success of its negotiations with the owning company and the insurer of the ship Ever Given, which was stranded in the Suez Canal last month.
The 400-metre-long ship had blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week last month. The giant vessel left hundreds of ships stranded and blocked traffic through the narrow international waterway.
Rabie affirmed the SCA’s keenness to cooperate with the owner and insurer of the ship in order to reach an agreement that is suitable to all involved parties, a statement by the SCA read.
Rabie expressed hope that the negotiations will soon result in an agreement in light of the facilitations Egypt has provided in appreciation of its longstanding relations with the owning company.
The SCA chief denied allegations that Egyptian authorities have arrested the crew of the vessel, saying the SCA does not mind if the crew leaves the country or is replaced.
However, he said that enough sailors have to remain in the country to secure the ship. Also, the captain’s presence is essential as the guardian of the ship and its cargo.
The SCA statement noted that it has already allowed two of the crew to return to their countries for emergency personal reasons.
Rabie said the SCA maintains flexibility in dealing with the requests of the ship's owner company in the negotiations.
He also affirmed the authority’s commitment to the international norms followed in such cases.
In mid-April, Egypt decided to seize the Ever Given until its Japanese owner Shoei Kisen Kaisha pays a compensation bill of $900 million for losses the ship inflicted on marine traffic.
Rabie’s remarks on Monday come only a few days after the ship owners filed an appeal before the Ismailia court against the Egyptian seizure decision.
The appeal is expected to be heard on 4 May.
A fleet of tugboats and diggers, with the assistance of the tide, managed to refloat the vessel, whose bow had been firmly lodged into the canal’s sandy bank.
The ship, which had run aground across the canal on 23 March and refloated on 29 March, is now idle in the Bitter Lakes, a wide stretch of water halfway between the north and south ends of the canal.
The ship is carrying cargo worth more than $3.5 billion.