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Two Qatari LNG tankers carrying a combined 524,000 cu m of the fuel suddenly changed course in the Gulf of Aden on their way to the Suez Canal yesterday, energy intelligence data provider Kpler reported, quoted by media. The vessels, each carrying 262,000 cu m of LNG, were believed to have been bound for the UK.
There has been no information about a closing of the Suez Canal to Qatari vessels, despite Egypt severing diplomatic relations with Qatar. The CNBC quoted RBC’s commodities chief Helima Croft as saying that 13 percent of global LNG shipments go through the Suez Canal.
Later in the day, Kpler told Oilprice that the tankers were likely heading down the African coast, to go around the Cape of Good Hope. Though the two tankers are moving in different directions, it might be because the second one, Zarga, has opted to avoid dangerous Somali waters. Both cargos are set for delays, Zarga by five days and Mafyar by 10 days. Neither has given updates about its new destination.
As Kuwait and the U.S. try to defuse the crisis in the oil-rich Gulf, Qatar is standing its ground. In a news conference yesterday, the country’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told media that “We have been isolated because we are successful and progressive. We are not ready to surrender, and will never be ready to surrender, the independence of our foreign policy.”
The minister added that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and the Maldives have not yet made any formal demands on the Qatari government, but cautioned that the solution to the situation had to be peaceful. The seven countries cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of supporting terrorism and Iran.
The accusations followed an interview with the Qatari Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, in which the ruler made critical remarks about Saudi Arabia and the U.S. and spoke in favor of better Arab-Iranian relations. Saudi Arabia has demanded that Doha cut its relations with Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas. The news site where the interview appeared later said it had been hacked, and that the remarks were “fake news,” but this has so far had no effect on developments.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.