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.
Schalka is worried that the shipping woes are going to worsen – causing major disruptions to the pulp trade that could impact supplies of toilet paper if producers don’t have sufficient inventories, according to Bloomberg.
The Sao Paulo-based Suzano accounts for about a third of global supplies of hardwood pulp.
About 50 ships usually pass through the Suez Canal every day, but they have been blocked since the Taiwanese-registered Ever Given ran aground.
Lars Jensen, a container shipping expert in Denmark, told the UK’s Mirror the shipment of everyday household items will be affected, including toilet rolls.
“Basically anything you see in the stores,” he said.
Jensen said the blocked ship is another blow to the global shipping system already broken by the pandemic disruption.
“This takes capacity out of a system that is already starving for capacity,” he said, The Sun reported.
Peter Berdowski, CEO of Dutch company Boskalis, which is trying to dislodge the gargantuan vessel, said it was too early to say how long it might take.
Its bow and stern had been lifted up against either side of the canal, he said, according to The Sun.
“We can’t exclude it might take weeks, depending on the situation,” Berdowski told Dutch TV. “It is like an enormous beached whale. It’s an enormous weight on the sand.”
He added: “We might have to work with a combination of reducing the weight by removing containers, oil and water from the ship, tug boats and dredging of sand.”