CAIRO – The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said on Tuesday it was still open to negotiations with the owners of a giant container ship that blocked traffic on the waterway for six days in March despite an ongoing litigation process in an Egyptian court.

On March 23, the Ever Given, one of the largest container ships in the world, got stuck across the canal by high winds, disrupting two-way traffic and disrupting global trade.

On Sunday, the court rejected a request by Shoei Kisen, the ship’s Japanese owners, to have the ship released from detention.

The SCA is seeking $ 916 million in compensation for the disruption suffered, but said Tuesday it would be prepared to accept a reduced $ 550 million, including a $ 200 million deposit made to secure the release of the ship and the remaining amount payable by letters of credit.

“The authority continued to handle the situation with full flexibility during the negotiation procedures with the shipowner to maintain the long relationship with him as one of our most important clients …” said the SCA in a press release.

This flexibility also explains “the continuation of negotiations despite the ongoing contentious procedures to reach an agreement that suits all parties,” he added.

The statement echoed comments by SCA chairman Osama Rabie, who also told Egyptian state television on Monday that the Shoei Kisen had offered only $ 150 million in compensation.

Rabie said the investigations into how the ship ran aground in the first place placed the responsibility solely on the ship’s captain, refuting arguments by the owner’s legal team that accused the SCA of allowing the ship to navigate in bad weather.

Twelve ships crossed the southern section of the Suez Canal that day despite the weather, the statement said.

(Reporting by Yusri Mohamed; written by Nadine Awadalla; edited by Mahmoud Mourad and Gareth Jones)

Photograph: This satellite image from Maxar Technologies shows the MV Ever Given cargo ship stuck in the Suez Canal near Suez, Egypt on Saturday March 27, 2021. Photo credit: © Maxar Technologies via AP.

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