The massive container ship that blocked the Suez Canal last month has been provisionally impounded amid a dispute over how much compensation its Japanese owner must pay, local media quoted Suez Canal Authority Chairman Osama Rabie as saying Tuesday.
A court in Ismailia, Egypt has accepted a request by the authority to seize the 220,000-ton Ever Given, which is owned by Japanese ship-leasing company Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., as the compensation payment of around $900 million has been delayed, the local media quoted him as saying.
The Panama-flagged ship, which is operated by Taiwan's Evergreen Marine Corp., became wedged in the vital waterway on March 23, causing significant disruption to global traffic by blocking more than 400 ships, before being finally dislodged six days later.
Shoei Kisen has sought a sharp discount in the compensation payment and negotiation over the amount is still continuing, Rabie reportedly told the local media.
The Japanese company told Kyodo News on Wednesday it was negotiating with the SCA over lowering the amount of compensation. "We are not yet at the stage of paying" the damages, an official said.
The company is in the process of trying to confirm whether the $900 million reportedly requested by the authority is appropriate.
The official said Shoei Kisen was notified about the amount several days ago through its insurer, and that the Egyptian court made the vessel seizure decision on Monday.
"We would like to settle the matter and have our ship set sail soon, but we cannot say anything right now because it depends on (the ongoing) negotiations," the official added.
The ship was on its way to Rotterdam in the Netherlands from China.