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Amid escalating tensions in the Middle East and the U.S. and UK strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen overnight, the largest shipping and tanker industry groups are advising members to stay away from the Bab el-Mandeb Strait while shippers are diverting transit away from the Red Sea en masse again.
In an advisory to its members, the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (Intertanko), representing nearly 70% of all international oil, chemical, and gas tankers, said that tankers should “stay well away” from Bab el-Mandeb and pause north of Yemen when traveling south through the Suez Canal route.
“The threat period for shipping is expected to last for several days,” Intertanko said in the advisory carried by the Financial Times.
The higher threat to shipping in the area sent oil prices surging by more than 4% early on Friday, after the U.S. and UK forces in the Red Sea struck military targets in Yemen late on Thursday in response to the Houthi attacks on ships in the area.
“These targeted strikes are a clear message that the United States and our partners will not tolerate attacks on our personnel or allow hostile actors to imperil freedom of navigation,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement following the air and sea strikes.
BIMCO, the world's largest direct-membership organization for shipowners, charterers, shipbrokers, and agents, also advised members to avoid the Red Sea.
“Should the situation escalate, all ships must be expected to avoid the Red Sea until safe passage is restored and effectively close the Suez Canal for all ships” except for vessels that aren’t going all the way through the Red Sea, BIMCO’s chief shipping analyst Niels Rasmussen said, as carried by Bloomberg.
In an update on Friday, shipping giant Maersk said that “The situation is constantly evolving and remains highly volatile, and all available intelligence at hand confirms that the security risk continues to be at a significantly elevated level.”
“We have therefore decided that all Maersk vessels due to transit the Red Sea / Gulf of Aden will be diverted south around the Cape of Good Hope for the foreseeable future,” Maersk added.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilpirce.com
Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.