Oil giant BP suspends shipping through Red Sea

LONDON, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) — Oil giant BP announced on Monday that it has paused all shipments of oil through the Red Sea after attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebel group.

“In light of the deteriorating security situation for shipping in the Red Sea, BP has decided to temporarily pause all transits through the Red Sea,” the company said in a statement.

“We will keep this precautionary pause under ongoing review, subject to circumstances as they evolve in the region,” it added.

Oil prices jumped on the announcement. Brent crude, a global benchmark, rose more than 2 percent on Monday afternoon to above 78 U.S. dollars per barrel, erasing earlier loss.

Since the beginning of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Houthi group, which controls large swathes of northern Yemen, has intensified its maritime aggression against Israel-linked ships, launching over ten attacks on vessels in the region.

The Houthis have openly declared their intent to target all ships en route to Israel, irrespective of their national origin, to show solidarity with Hamas.

In addition, the Houthis have issued explicit warnings to international shipping companies, advising against engagement with Israeli ports.

Industry giant Maersk was the first to advise its fleet on Friday to halt all voyages through the Bab al-Mandab Strait, a narrow sea passage near Yemen, which holds immense strategic significance, serving as a major artery for global oil shipments and as a crucial gateway to the Suez Canal.

Other shipping leaders, including Switzerland’s MSC, France’s CMA CGM, and Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd, quickly followed suit, expressing similar worries over maritime security in the region.

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