Suez Canal ship backlog will have 'ripple effects' in Windsor-Essex

·2 min read
In this photo released by Suez Canal Authority, the Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship is pulled by one of the Suez Canal tugboats, in the Suez Canal, Egypt, Monday, March 29, 2021. The backlog created by the wedged vessel will have implications for Windsor-Essex, says the Port Authority.  (Suez Canal Authority/The Associated Press - image credit)
In this photo released by Suez Canal Authority, the Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship is pulled by one of the Suez Canal tugboats, in the Suez Canal, Egypt, Monday, March 29, 2021. The backlog created by the wedged vessel will have implications for Windsor-Essex, says the Port Authority. (Suez Canal Authority/The Associated Press - image credit)

The cargo ship Ever Given is free after being stranded in the Suez Canal for nearly a week. But now, though the busy shipping channel has reopened, the saga isn't over.

And the "ripple effects" of the episode on the global shipping network will eventually be felt here in Windsor, particularly by the grain industry, according to Steve Salmons, CEO of the Windsor Port Authority.

Locally, Salmons expects a trickle down effect in the coming weeks. The ships expected to arrive in Windsor to pick up grain harvested last year could be delayed as a result of backlogs on the Suez.

Those delays in moving grain product could have consequences for farmers' bottom line, he said.

"In Windsor, we're a major grain exporter," he said. "Eighty per cent of all grain grown in the three-counties area here comes through the Port of Windsor and is exported out to across the globe."

The grain backup means shipping companies may not be able to carry other products as scheduled, or those other product shipping commitments mean they won't be back to pick up grain.

"So, we don't know ultimately what it's going to mean to us. We do know there's a trickle effect," he said.

Normally, about $11.3 billion worth of goods are shipped through the canal daily, and there was a backlog of nearly 400 ships when Ever Given was moved on Monday.

Steve Salmons, president and CEO of the Windsor Port Authority, is shown in a file photo.
Steve Salmons, president and CEO of the Windsor Port Authority, is shown in a file photo.(Kaitie Fraser/CBC)

The combination of the closure plus the backlog of other vessels waiting to get through amounts to two weeks lost, Salmons said.

"So when you lose two weeks out of an international world-connected transportation highway, you slow down the entire global economy, and that affects every one of us, no matter where you live on the globe."

Consumer goods affected

Windsor has the third-largest port on the Canadian side of Great Lakes, and the 10th largest in Canada, Salmons said.

"This is a significant port with a lot of material and product coming and going," he said.

Salmons said the region could also see delays in the arrival of steel. And the Ever Given episode could ultimately affect what we see on store shelves in the near future.

Arrival of consumer goods shipped by container could be delayed at bigger ports like Montreal and Vancouver.

"We're going to see, wait a minute, we don't have that TV in stock. That patio set I wanted to buy this spring isn't available because it's sitting on a container ship two weeks late," he said.