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Owners Of The Suez Canal Ship Have Reached A Compensation Deal With Egypt


A compensation deal has been reached in principle between Egyptian authorities and the owners of the massive container ship that was stuck in the Suez Canal back in March. The nearly weeklong blockage of that critical waterway disrupted shipping worldwide. Details of the preliminary deal have not yet been disclosed, but analysts believe it is much less than what the Suez Canal Authority initially demanded. NPR's Jackie Northam reports.

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: It took nearly a week for salvage crews to dislodge the Ever Given ship from the banks of the Suez Canal. Since then, the quarter-of-a-mile-long vessel has been anchored in a lake adjoining the canal along with about two dozen crew members while a compensation claim was hammered out. The Suez Canal Authority initially demanded more than $900 million, blaming the accident on the ship and asking for reimbursement for dredging and towing the vessel, along with repairs to the canal and reputational damage.

JAI SHARMA: Frankly, the sums that they were looking for at the beginning were just unachievable. They were almost the value of all of the ship's cargo.

NORTHAM: Jai Sharma is a maritime lawyer with the London-based firm Clyde & Co. and is representing cargo insurers on the Ever Given. He says the Suez Canal Authority quickly reduced their demands to about $550 million. He says he expects the final number will be much, much less.

But the insurance claims don't stop there. There will also be claims from individual cargo owners with goods that have been sitting in some of the 18,000 containers on board for the past three months. Sharma says there are insurers worldwide working on those claims.

SHARMA: For our part, we'll be dealing with, already, you know, more than a thousand claims. There are others as well. We've got a big share, but we're not the only ones.

NORTHAM: It's likely many of those claims will be settled with something called general average; essentially where one lump settlement will be divided up between the claimants proportionately. Meanwhile, it's expected the deal between the owners of the Ever Given and the Suez Canal Authority will be finalized over the next few days. After that, the ship, its crew and cargo - already months late - can finally finish its journey through the Suez Canal.

Jackie Northam, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF ODESZA SONG, "HOW DID I GET HERE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jackie Northam is NPR's International Affairs Correspondent. She is a veteran journalist who has spent three decades reporting on conflict, geopolitics, and life across the globe - from the mountains of Afghanistan and the desert sands of Saudi Arabia, to the gritty prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and the pristine beauty of the Arctic.