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Ships Told to Transit Red Sea With ‘Great Care’ After Strikes

Ships Told to Transit Red Sea With ‘Great Care’ After Strikes
A view of Persian Gulf from inside Devon, an oil tanker transferring oil to exporting markets on 23 March 2018.

A key trade group said the US has advised ships that continue to transit the Red Sea do so with “great care” after a fresh round of joint air strikes with the UK on Yemen’s Houthi militants.  

Intertanko, which represents the world’s oil and gas tanker owners, said US Naval Forces Central Command told the group that there is still a heightened threat to vessels with links to the US, UK and Israel, according to a statement. It also said there had been no recommendation to pause ship traffic after the most recent strikes — unlike in the hours that followed the first salvo earlier this month.

Even so, at least four tanker owners contacted by Bloomberg said they weren’t planning on resuming sailings through the region amid Houthi attacks on vessels and retaliatory airstrikes by the US and UK.

“Right now the status is that no sensible owner will go through,” said Lars Barstad, chief executive officer of Frontline Management AS, the management unit of one of the world’s largest oil tanker owners. “The risks are just too high to crew, equipment and the environment.”

Read more: Chaos in the Red Sea Is Starting to Bite Into Companies’ Profits

Tanker company Stena Bulk AB, which controls about 110 vessels, is also still avoiding Red Sea transits, Chief Executive Officer Erik Hanell said by email.

The US warned vessels to stay away from the region for a brief period following the airstrikes earlier this month. The Navy didn’t respond to a request for comment on the Intertanko note on Tuesday.

Last week, Clarkson Research Services Ltd. said the impact of the diversions was expanding into the tanker market. It said the volume of oil-carrying ships entering the Gulf of Aden was down about 45% on 2023 levels, following an already-significant impact on natural gas carriers and container shipping.

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