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U.S. and UK forces in the Red Sea have struck military targets in Yemen in response to Houthi attacks on ships in the area.
Reuters cited witnesses as saying there had been strikes across the country.
"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," President Biden said in a statement following the air and sea strikes.
The escalation follows what the U.S. Central Command called the biggest Houthi attack yet, the U.S. and UK forces in the Red Sea shot down 21 drones and missiles on Tuesday. The Houthis’ military spokesman, Yahya Saree, said they had attacked a U.S. military ship because it was “providing support” to Israel.
The news of the U.S. and UK retaliation pushed oil prices higher, initially spiking by more than 2% before retreating some. In mid-morning trade in Asia today, Brent crude was trading above $78 per barrel, with West Texas Intermediate at over $73 per barrel.
The U.S. and UK strikes on Yemen are the first on the country’s territory since 2016, Reuters noted in its report as it recalled that the Houthis have made a vow to respond to any attack in kind. This would mean further escalation of the Middle Eastern conflict.
"The concern is that this could escalate," security studies professor Andreas Krieg from King’s College in London told Reuters, noting Saudi Arabia and the UAE could be drawn into the war. The Saudis have already issued a statement calling for restraint and avoidance of escalation.
"The kingdom emphasizes the importance of maintaining the security and stability of the Red Sea region, as the freedom of navigation in it is an international demand," the Saudi foreign ministry said in the statement.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com