News 22nd Feb, 2024

Suez tanker traffic decreases further in February

Port Suez
Richards Bay

The number of oil tankers rerouting around the Cape of Good Hope has increased even further in February.

PHOTO: Selected commercial shipping routes. US Energy Information Administration

Yemen's Houthi rebel group has been attacking commercial ships in the southern Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait between Yemen and East Africa since last November.

Since then, at least 12 oil & chemical tankers have faced missile strikes, near misses, or threats from the Houthis, according to marine risk management firm Ambrey. These attacks have forced several shipping firms to reroute their vessels around the Cape of Good Hope instead of the shorter Suez Canal route.

In the first half of February, an average of 11 tankers/day passed through the Suez Canal, down from 14 tankers/day in the second half of January. A record low of 6 tankers/day transited on February 2, according to the IMF's PortWatch data.

Tanker traffic through the Suez Canal began to gradually increase in the second half of this month, but dropped dramatically again to as low as 6 tankers/day after the Houthis attacked a Panama-flagged oil tanker, Pollux, on 15 February. It was carrying crude oil from Russia and was bound for India, according to Reuters.

Conversely, tanker transit calls from the longer route around Cape of Good Hope have increased sharply. There were 21 tankers/day passing through the Cape in the first half of February, compared to 16 tankers/day in the second half of January.

By Konica Bhatt

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