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Maersk fuel carriers will have the option of bypassing the Red Sea following a spate of attacks on other vessels in the area, possibly extending fuel voyages by thousands of miles.
Maersk said on Thursday that its fuel carriers can bypass the Red Sea to avoid potential danger, according to company correspondence seen by Bloomberg. If carriers choose to bypass the Red Sea, it will also bypass the Suez Canal and add thousands of miles to their journeys, opting to sail around Africa instead.
This will add days to the journey and burn “hundreds of tons more fuel” according to Bloomberg. On the other hand, however, it could save on insurance costs that have increased since the Houthis ratcheted up their attacks.
Maersk Tankers, based in Copenhagen, operates a fleet of 131 vessels that are owned by other companies and is a distinct entity from A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, which saw one of its vessels attacked on Thursday by Houthi militants. There was no damage from that incident.
The Maersk decision will not require vessels to bypass the Red Sea, rather it will give them the option of avoiding it.
On Wednesday, a U.S. warship intervened and fired on an inbound drone that was believed to be launched by Yemeni Houthi rebels after a report that the oil and chemical tanker Ardmore Encounter came under attached. The Ardmore was travelling towards the Suez Canal in the Red Sea from India. The event was the latest in at least half a dozen serious attacks against commercial shipping in the Red Sea. Yemen's Iran-backed Houthis have threatened to close the whole area to shipping due to the ongoing Israeli onslaught in Gaza. The group weeks ago 'declared war' on Israel and has sent several ballistic missiles toward Israel.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.