The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) wants $916 million (€761 million) recompense for last month's six-day snarl of world shipping, but on Friday the insurer of the Egyptian-impounded Ever Given said it had filed an appeal and again implied costs were exaggerated.
London-based maritime insurer UK P&I called for a "fair and swift resolution" of the SCA's claim to enable the vessel to continue on her intended voyage and the crew to leave Egypt."
Last week, the insurer asserted the SCA bill before an Egyptian court at Ismailia, close to canal network's Great Bitter Lake, where the megaship remains, was "largely unsupported."
On Friday, it said that its appeal at Ismailia's court would be heard on May 4, having filed an appeal on Thursday.
"The appeal against the arrest was made on several grounds, including the validity of the arrest obtained in respect of the cargo and the lack of supporting evidence for the SCA's very significant claim," UK P&I said in a statement.
The sum was stated last week by a judicial official and was also reported by the state-run Al-Ahram daily newspaper, although details were not spelled out publicly by the SCA. UK P&I, meanwhile, had put the bill at $916 million and said that a large portion of it was for a loss of "reputation" for the SCA.
UKP&I said that a "generous offer" had been made to settle the claim and that it would continue to negotiate outside court. It said it was providing the company with third-party insurance cover for costs such as damage to infrastructure or claims for obstruction. The cargo on board and the vessel itself were "insured separately," it noted.
'No pollution' caused, ship was 'fully operational'
Towed free on March 29, the Ever Given had caused "no pollution and no reported injuries" and had been "fully operational" with a capable crew on board when it grounded, UK P&I said last week.
The megaship, stacked with containers headed for Rotterdam, remained "under detention," said UK P&I, adding it was "encouraged," however, that the SCA had allowed two crew members to return home for "compassionate reasons."
Still on board were 25 crew members, including two substitutes, all from India.
Owner at fault?
Last week, SCA chief Osama Rabie claimed the Japanese owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., did "not want to pay anything," while also claiming the ship's owner was at fault, and said negotiations were ongoing.
The ship's fate was "in the legal arena," said a spokeswoman for the owner in a brief statement at the time.
Litigation could be complex since the Japanese-owned giant is operated by a Taiwanese shipper and flagged in Panama.
Egypt put its daily canal revenue losses at $12 -15 million.
On a far broader scale, Lloyd's List had estimated the general costs of blockage of cargo ferrying between Asia and Europe at $9.6 billion each day for the world economy.
Tailback cleared, containers awaited
On March 23, the vessel grounded diagonally across a single-lane stretch of the canal, near the city of Suez and the conduit's southern egress.
Tailbacks totaling 420 ships at the southern and northern entrances were cleared in early April.
UKP&I is one of a cluster of mutual "protection and indemnity" shipping insurers, so-called P&I clubs, initiated in the 19th century to share of the costs of losses at sea.
ipj/msh (AP, AFP, dpa)