Oil shipments from Saudi Arabia and Iraq to Europe delayed amid Red Sea tensions

Oil shipments from Saudi Arabia and Iraq to Europe, totalling nearly nine million barrels, are facing delays as tankers are forced to reroute due to escalating tensions in the Red Sea, Bloomberg reported, citing ship tracking data.

According to the report, seven vessels, which earlier this month loaded crude oil and oil products at the Saudi Arabian ports of Ras Tanura and Al Jubail, and the Iraqi port of Basra, have altered course, steering away from the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait.

Most of these ships changed their routes on or after January 12, following airstrikes by US and UK forces on positions held by the Iran-backed Houthi movement, which controls northern and central parts of Yemen.

The diverted ships are now circumnavigating the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, avoiding the Red Sea.

This change is expected to extend the voyage by more than two weeks.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) previously warned that rerouting oil transit around the Cape of Good Hope, aside from delaying deliveries, increases the risk of bottlenecks, higher freight costs, and renewed inflation growth.

The Houthi movement, “Ansar Allah,” which controls much of Yemen’s Red Sea coast, had earlier threatened to attack any Israel-linked ships, urging other countries to recall their crews and avoid approaching them at sea.

Several shipping companies have decided to suspend Red Sea transits in response.

The Houthis have claimed that their actions in the Red Sea are in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, asserting they do not hinder maritime freedom in the region.

Arab and Muslim countries have repeatedly warned the US that unconditional support for Israel’s actions in Gaza could escalate the conflict throughout the region.

Since mid-January, the US and UK have been striking Houthi targets, describing these as a response to threats to maritime freedom in the Red Sea.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a member of the “Ansar Allah” political council, condemned these attacks as acts of terrorism and deliberate, unjustified aggression.


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