File Photo: Ever Given sailing freely through the Suez Canal
taken on 29 March 2021. Al-Ahram
UK Club, an insurer for the giant Ever Given ship that ran aground and blocked Egypt’s Suez Canal in March, said it is currently engaged in “serious and constructive negotiations” with the canal’s authority over its compensation claim.
In an official statement on Wednesday, the UK Club said it’s now involved in talks regarding the authority’s claim over the grounding of the ship for six days.
“It is hopeful of a positive resolution to these negotiations in the near future,” it said, signaling renewed efforts to reach a settlement over the ship crisis amid an ongoing legal dispute and an exchange of blame over which party was at fault over the crisis.
Last month, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) rejected claims by UK Club that the speed of the Ever Given was controlled by the canal’s operator before it ran aground in the canal.
The SCA said that exceeding set speeds at the country’s strategic canal is the sole responsibility of the ship’s captain.
The ship insurer’s statement came in response to statements by SCA officials that the ship was sailing too fast and that the error was entirely the responsibility of the Ever Given's captain and not that of the canal’s operator, whose opinion is non-binding.
The dispute over which party is at fault, which crippled the global supply chain in March for nearly a week, comes amid a continuing legal dispute over the ship.
In late May, a trial over the Ever Given was adjourned to 20 June to allow for further negotiations on the compensation value.
The Ismailiya Economic Court postponed the hearing upon requests made by the lawyers representing the SCA and the ship owner.
The lawyers said the postponement is meant to allow for an amicable solution to the ship crisis to be reached.
The SCA had slashed its compensation claim of $916 million to $550 million to settle the current judicial dispute, with the mega-ship to be allowed to leave if nearly 40 percent of the sum is paid in cash.
The Ever Given’s insurers say the demanded sum is still too high, previously offering to pay $150 million in compensation for the six-day traffic halt.
The ship ran aground across the canal on 23 March and was refloated on 29 March by a fleet of Egyptian tugboats and diggers with the assistance of the tide.
The vessel has since been anchored in a lake between two sections of the canal.