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Suez Canal ship crisis threatens to unleash worldwide toilet paper shortage

Suez Canal ship crisis threatens to unleash worldwide toilet paper shortage

Please, not this again.

Earlier this week, an overnight desert storm hitting the Suez Canal buffeted a massive cargo vessel four football fields long, causing it to run aground and completing blocking one of the world’s most important transportation routes.

Despite massive efforts to dredge the ship free, the canal remains closed, though Egyptian officials hope to resolve the crisis sometime this weekend.

Marine traffic through the Suez Canal remained blocked on Friday for the fourth consecutive day, with dozens of ships stuck at both the north and south entrances to the shortest route between Asia and Africa. Efforts to dislodge one of the world’s largest cargo vessels, stuck sideways across the narrow canal since Tuesday, were picking up, and while one of the teams in charge of the operation said it could take weeks, an advisor to Egypt’s president offered a more optimistic time table.

Mohab Mamish, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s advisor on seaports and the former chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, told the AFP news agency on Thursday that navigation through the canal “will resume again within 48-72 hours, maximum.”

Mamish cited his “experience with several rescue operations of this kind” and said he knew “every centimeter of the canal.

We truly wish Mr. Mamish much luck. The route is so critical to the transportation of produce and goods that there are fears there will be toilet paper shortages should the situation continue.

The massive ship blocking the Suez Canal may prove to be a titanic pain in the butt — by reportedly unleashing a toilet paper shortage not seen since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

The owner of the Ever Given, the 200,000-ton behemoth that ran aground this week when high winds turned it sideways, has apologized for the mega-blockage, which is causing a global trade crisis.

But the proverbial s–t could really hit the fan if it triggers another TP crisis, as a flotilla of cargo ships remain stuck behind the huge vessel.

Walter Schalka, CEO of the Brazilian wood pulp company Suzano SA, told Bloomberg News that the firm was struggling to transport the raw material for toilet paper amid the delays.

The Suez bottleneck comes amid existing shipping container shortages sparked by increasing demand in China and a reduction in supplies, the Express reported.

It is being reported that U.S. Navy will send dredging experts there to offer options for freeing the stuck tanker. They may also be dealing with the area’s pirates as well.

And as ships consider rerouting to avoid the blockage, the Navy’s Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain told the Financial Times that several shipping companies have reached out to the Navy about piracy concerns.

The waters off Somalia in East Africa have long been a hotspot for pirates. But threats are growing in West Africa as well. Earlier this month, shipping giant Maersk asked for military help against pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.

The captain clearly had a day so bad that this event is visible via satellite:

Despite the optimistic assessment of the Egyptians, other marine transport professionals fear it will be weeks before the canal clears. Ships are now being rerouted around the Cape of Good Hope.

At least seven tankers carrying liquefied natural gas were diverted, including three steered toward the longer route to Europe via the Cape of Good Hope in southern Africa. Another nine tankers were expected to be diverted if the blockage continues into the weekend, an analyst for data intelligence firm Kpler told the Guardian newspaper.

At least four long-range oil tankers with the capacity to haul 75,000 tons of oil were also possibly headed around the Cape of Good Hope, London-based ship brokering firm Braemar ACM told Reuters, adding that shipping rates have nearly doubled this week “as the market starts to price in fewer vessels being available in the region.”

On the ship-tracking service Marine Traffic, several ships could be observed changing course Friday.

Detouring around Africa is likely to add a week or two to most itineraries. It will also mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional fuel costs.

Here’s hoping that the Egyptians resolve this crisis soon, for the sake of their country and the rest of the world.


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Globalization is so much better than America-first nationalism and the self-reliance a thriving freedom-based economy offers because… I dunno… maybe because all of these endless crises provide endless opportunities for the world to unite in shared poverty and chaos? Sounds good! Freedom breeds too many communists. I’m in!

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to Pasadena Phil. | March 28, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    I’m SO glad a past president, a Republican, please note, opened up relations with China…

    MattMusson in reply to Pasadena Phil. | March 29, 2021 at 10:48 am

    The end of complex multi-national supply chains is at hand.

    Automobile companies are learning that a car that requires 5000 parts is not a car if you have only 4999 if the part you are missing is a semi-conductor. Manufacturers will soon be requiring colocation of parts suppliers.

    We will see an escalation of re-shoring production from China to Mexico and the USA. So fare 4 million jobs have come back to North America.

Well, toilet paper is one product the USA is self-sufficient in. In fact we are an exporter, primarily to Japan, Thailand, Singapore and Korea where the higher priced brands have followings.

    henrybowman in reply to puhiawa. | March 28, 2021 at 5:27 pm

    I can’t say I’ve ever thought of that region of the world as a major home for the paper industry. I’m going to have my wife pay attention to the thread count of future rolls. Maybe look for some “100% Sahara Forest” product. (Old lumberjack joke there, look it up.)

nordic_prince | March 28, 2021 at 1:52 pm

I find the ship’s course just prior to running aground much more curious.

Well is this telling?

Did Cargo Ship ‘Draw’ a Penis Before Getting Stuck in Suez Canal?

I wonder how many illegals are in those container ships?

This is no accident even though the running joke is a women driver. BTW, she too a good picture.

Egyptian female sea captain negates commanding stranded cargo ship in Suez Canal

Wanted: World’s largest toilet plunger.

Call Mohab Mamish, Suez Canal Authority
Irshad Building – 7th floor, Ismailia, Egypt
+2 064 3392515/3914784/3914785
+2 064 3396222/3396333/3397222
[email protected]

Shortage or not, it’ll give somebody a good reason to raise prices.

Halcyon Daze | March 28, 2021 at 6:04 pm

I still have an attic full from Y2K.

Subotai Bahadur | March 28, 2021 at 6:26 pm


Just in passing, they have pretty much ruled out a sudden wind as the cause. There was/is another container ship directly aft of the EVER GIVEN and they saw no sign of such, including blowing sand. While a container ship has a large sail area with all the containers, it is a 200,000 ton ship minus cargo. A gust of wind will not do it.

There are reports that the ship was moving at about twice the speed allowed [13+ instead of 7+ knots] in the Canal. Also it must noted that EVER GIVEN should have been being conned by a Suez Canal Authority pilot. I suspect that the cause will come down to human [accidental or deliberate] or mechanical.

Subotai Bahadur

Baghdad Bob just resurfaced as a spokesman for the Suez Canal. I wondered where he went.

I hope they avoid the temptation to refloat the ship by pumping out fuel and water ballast. These container ships have a high center of mass when fully loaded, and the weight of the fuel and water ballast is needed to keep the ship from capsizing.

If they want to lighten the ship, the safest process would be to remove containers beginning with those that are placed highest. Not as easy as pumping out ballast, but it wouldn’t destabilize the ship.

Better head to Sam’s to stock up on tp.