The Suez Canal Blockage
The container ship Ever Given, one of the largest in the world, has been stuck in the Suez Canal for a week. Efforts to move the huge ship have finally managed to re-float the stern of the ship and move it away from the bank of the canal. The bow still remains stuck, with work continuing today to move it.
The Suez canal, shown with live traffic on the map below, is one of the world’s busiest trade routes with an average of 50 ships passing through every day. The blockage has caused a backlog of ships at both ends of the canal as they wait to pass through. Other ships are now re-routing around Africa, adding thousands of miles and up to ten days to their journey.
Short and Long Term Delays Caused By The Suez Canal Blockage
The blockage of this major trade route between Asia and Europe will cause delays in global trade for some time. The most obvious short term effect is the delay caused directly by ships having to wait until the blockage in the Suez Canal is cleared. There are close to 200 ships waiting at the ends of the Suez Canal to be able to pass through when the Ever Given is moved and the blockage is cleared. The Suez Canal has been blocked for a week already, and it is likely to be another day or two before traffic is able to start moving again. Other ships are already taking the route around the southern tip of Africa instead of waiting for the Suez Canal to be cleared, also causing delays due to the longer journey.
The problems are not over once the Suez Canal has been cleared and traffic is able to pass through again. Once traffic is moving, the backlog of ships currently waiting to pass through will start arriving at ports to unload. European ports already have delays in unloading and transport of containers away from the ports caused by changes of procedure related to the Covid-19 pandemic, and so some of the ships arriving will have to wait when they arrive at ports in Europe. This will add yet further delays to delivery of goods that are currently on ships waiting to pass through the Suez canal, and there will be further impacts on ships arriving at ports in Europe for several weeks as the backlog is worked through.
Another issue that has affected global shipping over the last year is a severe shortage of available container space in China and far eastern ports, will be made even worse by the disruption caused by the blockage of the Suez Canal. China’s industry recovered quickly from the Covid-19 pandemic, and exports to Europe and the US have increased very quickly. This has meant that there are huge numbers of empty containers out of position, with COVID-19 restrictions and staff shortages meaning that the return of empty containers to eastern Asia is delayed. The cost of shipping from China to Europe and the US had already increased dramatically because of this, and now the effects of the Suez Canal blockage will only make this worse as it will take weeks if not months to deal with the backlog of freight.
Effects Of The Suez Canal Blockage On The Consumer
From the consumer’s point of view, the effects of the Ever Given blocking the Suez canal will be delays in deliveries of anything coming from China and other far eastern ports, as well as oil transported by tanker ships from the Middle East. A lot of manufacturing in Europe depends on Chinese imports for various components and materials, so European manufacturing may experience shortages and therefore delays. Much of the oil supplied by tanker from the Middle East travels via the Suez Canal, and will also be affected by the delays.
It is likely that consumer electronics and clothing will have significant supply chain delays over the summer, and there may even be another toilet paper shortage. Wood pulp is transported from China to Europe to make toilet paper.
The delays, and associated increases in the cost of shipping, are likely to also cause an increase in prices passed on to consumers for goods, including clothing, that are transported from the Far East, or items that require components transported from the Far East. Probably of most importance is the effect on the transportation of oil. Delays in the transportation of oil to Europe will cause increases in the cost of fuel passed on to the consumer.
How Does This Affect Preppers?
As preppers, we should already be prepared for interruptions in any supply chain, and so delays in the delivery of consumer electronics, clothing and other goods transported from the Far East are unlikely to be of great significance to preppers.. Therefore the most significant impact is likely to be an increase in the cost of petrol and diesel fuel, which will be caused by the increase in cost of oil from the Middle East.
There are several ways that we can deal with this as preppers:
- Having a sound financial plan, which will be able to absorb increased costs of anything needed for day to day living.
- Having a supply of fuel stored at home, which will mitigate any short term increase but it is unlikely to be able to have large quantities of perrol or diesel stored at home.
- Having a plan to be able to continue with reduced usage of fuel, for example increased working from home or walking on shorter journeys where you may otherwise have used a vehicle.