The conflict in the Middle East is having an impact on shipping safety. A situation that is forcing oil companies like BP to take preventive measures.
On Monday December 18, oil major BP announced its decision to suspend all transport of its oil cargoes across the Red Sea. The reason for this is the upsurge in attacks by Yemeni Houthi militants, in response to Israel's military offensive in Gaza. The energy group's decision follows recent attacks on commercial vessels in the Bab el-Mandeb strait.
Faced with this situation, several oil companies have opted to divert their ships bypassing Africa via the Cape of Good Hope route. However, this option entails additional costs and long delays.
BP is the first multinational oil and gas company to opt to suspend the transit of its tankers in the region, as have several major shipping companies. The company explains this choice by the priority given to the safety of its personnel.
This decision, and the disruption it caused, were not without consequences for crude oil prices. Brent, the benchmark crude, rose by almost 4% to reach $79.39 in the aftermath.
As security threats to shipping appear to be increasing, a coalition of countries including the USA, UK, Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles and Spain, has set up a maritime protection force called "Prosperity Guardian". The aim is to protect shipping in the southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, the maritime region between Somalia and Yemen.