Cheniere and Shell fuel tanks change course to avoid downtime as oil tankers divert routes


March 26, 2021, Egypt, Suez: A boy observes two tugs that took part in a re-launch operation performed to free “Ever Given”.

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Companies are trying to divert ships to avoid congestion on the Suez Canal, including at least two U.S. ships carrying natural gas to Cheniere i Shell/ BG Group, according to data provided by MarineTraffic and ClipperData.

At least ten tankers and containers are changing direction as Ever Given, one of the world’s largest containers, remains stranded across canals along Egypt, MarineTraffic spokesman Georgios Hatzimanolis told CNBC in an interview.

“We expect that number to increase as this closure progresses,” Hatzimanolis said.

The 1,300-foot boat ran aground on Tuesday from Malaysia to the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The stranded ship caused other vessels to return to the canal, retaining about $ 400 million per hour of goods, according to shipping magazine Lloyd’s List. That has been slowly increasing in the last few days after Egypt’s repeated efforts to recondition 247,000 tons of containers failed. Officials there use eight large tugs and excavation equipment on the banks of a sand-digging canal around the grounded vessel.

According to MarineTraffic, 97 vessels are stuck in the upper part of the canal, 23 ships are waiting in the middle and 108 ships in the lower part. The loggia stretches through the Red Sea, along the Gulf of Aden, all the way to the border of Yemen and Oman.

“From Asia to Europe we see ships diverting to the Indian Ocean, just below the southern tip of Sri Lanka,” Hatzimanolis added. For Europe-related ships coming from Asia, a tour of Africa, instead of through a canal, can add seven days to a boat trip, he said.

The Maran Gas Andros LNG tanker set off on March 19 from Ingleside, Texas, filled with Cheniere fuel and carrying 170,000 cubic feet of liquefied natural gas. The Pan Americas LNG tanker, which carries Shell / BG fuel, left the Sabine pass on March 17 and can carry up to 174,000 cubic meters of liquefied natural gas. Matt Smith, director of commodity research for ClipperData, confirmed which companies use the ships.

Both tankers changed course in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean before heading to tour the Cape.

ClipperData also shows Suezmax Marlin Santorini filled with 700,000 barrels of Midland West Texas Intermediate crude oil being diverted from the canal. Smith said the original route to Suez was “unusual diversions.”

“The vast majority of U.S. crude oil exports avoid the Suez Canal, instead of going to Europe or around the Cape of Good Hope to Asia,” Smith explained. Suezmax Marlin was on March 10 at Magellan’s Seabrook Terminal in Houston, Texas, where it was overflowed with 330,000 barrels of light crude oil from West Texas, and a day later headed into the Galveston lighting zone.

The ship then left the United States for Port Said in northeastern Egypt, but turned south on Thursday after passing the Azores near Portugal. “The ship has not yet updated its declared destination,” Smith said.

ClipperData shows the number of fully loaded fuel tankers waiting for Port Said, as well as the U.S. Gulf Coast. As of Friday afternoon, two more tankers and Suezmax, the largest tanker that can sail the Suez Canal, carrying vacuum gasoline oil from the U.S., were passing Crete and anchored off the coast of Egypt.

Another ship, the container ship HMM Rotterdam, turned off the canal just before entering the Strait of Gibraltar, changing course to tour Africa.

Peter Sand, chief shipping analyst at BIMCO, said the mode of diversion is similar among other vessels.

“We see that not only container ships are being diverted in both directions, but also LNG carriers and dry bulkers from the U.S. Gulf of Mexico,” Sand said. “Ships turn abruptly to the right in the middle of the Atlantic to head south toward the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the log cabin around Suez.”

Kevin Book, CEO of ClearView Energy Partners says that while the long Suez interruption introduces latency into the supply system, for liquefied natural gas, the length of the delay depends on where the ship is heading, where it is heading and where it has changed course.

“For Gulf U.S. exporters, by touring the trumpet, it only adds three days or less at sea to Tokyo’s port,” Book said. “For cargo from Doha to northwestern Europe, that route could run ten days after the trip.”

The cargo, which originates in the Gulf of Mexico and is stuck in the Mediterranean, could face a ten-day diversion instead of three, he said.

At the time of publication, Cheniere and Shell / BG responded to CNBC’s request for comment.

MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company said 11 of his ships were diverted, 19 ships were anchored on both sides of the canal, and two ships were returned back on Friday afternoon.

The Suez Canal blockade is one of the “biggest disruptions in global trade in years,” MSC senior vice president Caroline Becquart said in an email on Saturday.

“We predict that the second quarter of 2021 will be more disrupted than the first three months, and perhaps more challenging than it was late last year,” she said. “Companies should expect the Suez blockade to lead to a narrowing in ship’s capacity and equipment, and consequently to a worsening of supply chain reliability problems over the coming months.”


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