A court hearing was scheduled on June 20 on freeing the arrested 20,124-TEU container vesselV.Ever Given that blocked the Suez Canal for six days will learn whether the Japanese shipowners have improved their offer of US$150 million closer to the $550 million compensation demanded by the Suez Canal Authority (SCA).

But the owners and the SCA appear to be no nearer agreement on the level of compensation for the blockage of the canal in March, reports London’s Loadstar.

Caught in the middle is the cargo, with an estimated value of some $1 billion, the owners of which have no say. The ship is owned by Shoei Kisen Kaisha, and is time chartered and operated by Taiwan’s Evergreen Marine.

North European importers with containers onboard the M.V.Ever Given may have already decided to abandon the cargo, due to the time-sensitive nature of product, contracts of sale being frustrated and/or markets having been lost.

Singapore-based Mathu Jagannath, director of marine claims consultancy firm NAU Pte, has urged SCA and shipowner to consider the cargo interests.

The SCA blames the accident on the ship’s “excessive speed” at the time of the grounding, while the vessel’s insurer, the UK’s P&I Club, maintains that navigation in the waterway was under the control of the SCA’s pilot and vessel traffic management.

The ship-owner has declared General Average, meaning cargo owners must pay a percentage of the value of their consignment towards the salvage costs before the release of containers, but the process cannot be completed until the ship is able to discharge its boxes.