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Denmark’s Maersk said it will reroute 80% of its ship traffic originally bound for the Suez Canal to the longer route around the Cape of Good Hope following the latest Houthi attack in the Red Sea.
On Thursday, the Houthis detonated an unmanned vessel in the area although they did not target any ships. The detonation came a day after a group of countries led by the United States issued a warning that there would be “consequences” unless the attacks stopped.
“It came within a couple of miles of ships operating in the area — merchant ships and US Navy ships — and we all watched as it exploded,” Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of the U.S. Navy forces in the Middle East, told media, as quoted by Arab News.
Maersk was among shipping majors that reacted to the series of attacks by Houthis on ships in the Red Sea by rerouting those en route to the Suez Canal. When the U.S. announced it was setting up a coalition to step up military presence in the area, the Danish company said it would return its ships to the Red Sea.
The flip-flopping suggests that the situation remains complicated for global shippers, and, in turn, for supply chains across industries.
“Carriers re-routing ships around Africa indicates that a quick fix is considered unlikely (otherwise they would wait in the Red Sea) and indeed disruption has now been ongoing for over a month,” JP Morgan wrote in a note this week, as cited by the Financial Times.
Since November 18, there have been 25 attacks in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, Vice Admiral Brad Cooper said.
For now, oil traffic has not been disrupted but the very fact of the threat hanging over merchant ships in the area has had a mild bullish effect on prices, especially coupled with the possibility of the Israel-Gaza war spreading to neighboring countries.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.