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Saudi Arabia is exporting crude oil via the Red Sea as usual despite Houthi attacks on vessels in the region, a senior Aramco official told Bloomberg.
“We’re moving in the Red Sea with our oil and products cargoes,” Mohammed Al Qahtani, head of Aramco’s refining, oil trading and marketing division said, adding that the risks were “manageable”.
This is in stark difference to other oil traders, which have rerouted tanker traffic away from the Red Sea. This has added substantially to costs, with the longer journey around the Cape of Good Hope in Africa adding close to $1 million to the transport bill of a tanker, per data from LSEG Shipping Research.
Shipbroker data from Xclusiv, however, showed that deliveries of Saudi Arabian crude to Europe had declined between December and this month by 15%, suggesting some interference with normal traffic.
It is worth noting that until about a couple of years ago, the Houthis were fighting the Saudis that led a coalition with the UAE with the material support of the United States to restore the elected Yemeni government in power after the Houthi rebellion overthrew the president and the ministers.
Relations between the two began to mellow, however, after the coalition failed to achieve any significant results but the war plunged Yemen into a massive humanitarian crisis—the worst in the world in decades.
Some Middle Eastern observers described the war with Yemen as one of the biggest mistakes of Crown Prince Mohammed—a mistake that turned Saudi oil infrastructure into targets for the Houthi drones and missiles.
Now, the Saudi government is calling on the U.S. and UK to show restraint in their response to Houthi attacks as peace talks between Riyadh and Sana’a continue and there is even a prospect for improved relations with Iran—which the Saudis in fact fought by proxy in Yemen.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.