“The Japanese owner of the giant cargo ship that has been blocking Egypt’s Suez Canal since Tuesday has apologised for the disruption to global trade.
Shoei Kisen Kaisha said it was trying to resolve the situation as soon as possible, but that dislodging the Ever Given was proving extremely difficult.
Marine and salvage engineers failed in their latest attempt on Thursday.
The 400m-long (1,300ft), 200,000-tonne vessel became wedged across the canal amid high winds and a dust storm.
How do you refloat a giant cargo ship?
Efforts to shift huge ship from canal
Evergreen Marine, the Taiwanese firm that operates the ship, has said salvage experts are working with the captain and the Suez Canal Authority to design a more effective plan for refloating it.
The blockage is creating long tailbacks in the waterway, with more than 150 vessels currently waiting in the area to pass.
About 12% of global trade passes through the canal, which connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea and provides the shortest sea link between Asia and Europe.
An alternative route, around the Cape of Good Hope on the southern tip of Africa, can take two weeks longer.
“In co-operation with local authorities and Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, a vessel management company, we are trying to refloat [the Ever Given], but we are facing extreme difficulty,” the owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha, said in a statement on Thursday.
“We sincerely apologise for causing a great deal of worry to ships in the Suez Canal and those planning to go through the canal,” it added.
Industry sources told Reuters news agency that even if the Ever Given was refloated quickly its owner and insurers faced claims totalling millions of dollars for the delays and extra costs accrued by other companies.
oshiaki Fujiwara, an official at Shoei Kisen Kaisha, told AFP news agency that the ship had an insurance policy, but that he was unaware of the details or any costs involved at this stage.
“It’s just the beginning,” he said.
Global crude oil prices rose 6% on Wednesday after traffic through the canal was suspended, though they fell more than 4% on Thursday.
A flotilla of tugboats, as well as dredgers and diggers resumed efforts to move the Ever Given at high tide on Thursday morning, after stopping overnight.
Later, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement said in a statement that an attempt to refloat the vessel at about 08:00 was not successful, and that another attempt would be made in the afternoon.
The management company added that a team of salvage experts from Smit Salvage had been appointed and were attending to the ship.
The CEO of Smit Salvage’s parent company, Boskalis, warned that it could take weeks, rather than days, to refloat the ship.
“It is like an enormous beached whale. It’s an enormous weight on the sand,” Peter Berdowski told the Dutch TV station NPO.
“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.”“