Bahri resumes Bab El-Mandab Strait oil shipments, 7 tankers go dark
Saudi Arabia’s primary VLCC owner and operator Bahri has resumed oil shipments through the Bab El-Mandab Strait reversing a decision last week to temporarily suspend movement through the waterway following a Houthi attack.
Just hours after the decision was announced, at least seven VLCCs that made been anchored off Salalah went dark, turning off their AIS transponders, apparently in preparation for a transit through the strait.
Standard & Poor’s Global Platts said an oil tanker owned by the National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (Bahri) crossed the strait on Sunday, adding that three vessels owned by the same company have been on standby in the last 24 hours in Oman’s Salalah Port.
Another carrier owned by Bahri has also headed from the east coast of Saudi Arabia to Bab El-Mandab en route to the Egyptian port of Ain El-Sokhna while two other vessels were seen approaching Bab El-Mandab in the last few hours.
Saudi Arabia announced on 25 July that it will temporarily suspend all oil shipments through the Bab El-Mandab Strait until navigation in the area becomes secure.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy, Khalid Al-Falih, said: “The Houthi terrorist organisation’s threats to crude oil carriers affects the freedom of international trade and maritime navigation in the Bab El-Mandab Straits and the Red Sea.”
It’s unclear what additional security measures have been put in place to satisfy Bahri of the security of its vessels.
Bab El-Mandab is one of the most important waterways in the world; nearly 25,000 ships pass through it annually, representing about seven per cent of the world’s maritime traffic. The waterway is located between Yemen, Djibouti, and Eritrea, and connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.