Politics, Geopolitics & Conflict
The conflict in the Red Sea continued unabated this week, with the Houthis targeting Maersk vessels and their U.S. Navy warship escorts through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait off the coast of Yemen. The Houthis, looking to score some additional credibility, claimed to have directly hit the U.S. warship escorts - a claim that was denied by U.S. Central Command. The vessels were targeted, but there were no direct hits. Maersk has been rerouting most vessels to avoid the Red Sea, with a single remaining class of vessel being the only ones that were still braving the passage until this week. All Maersk vessels are now being rerouted following this latest attack. Prior to this, data showed that tanker volume in the Suez Canal had fallen by over 50% in the week starting January 15 compared to the previous week (Reuters, citing AXSMarine).
The winter season has seen the Russia-Ukraine conflict take on new aspects, with Ukraine launching some particularly bold attacks on Russian targets. Earlier this week, Ukraine launched a drone attack on a Russian Baltic Sea terminal (Novatek), taking some 20,000 bpd offline temporarily.
Turkey signed off on Sweden’s NATO accession this week, with a clear signal that the U.S. would provide Erdogan with those long-awaited F-16s. That leaves Hungary as the outlier. Hungary’s pro-Russian Orban is still holding out.
The deal Washington made with Venezuela to ease oil sanctions was conditioned…