HSE & Sustainability

BP Halts Oil and Gas Shipments Through Red Sea After Rebel Attacks

The energy company is following decisions by five big shipping firms as Houthi militants step up attacks on vessels.

BP has become the first oil firm to directly halt its own shipping in the region.
Source: Neil Hall/EPA

BP has halted all shipments of oil and gas through the Red Sea after an increase in attacks on cargo ships by Houthi militants in Yemen, including two further strikes on 18 December.

The British oil major said it had paused shipping in the region indefinitely, citing a “deteriorating security situation” amid tensions in the Middle East.

BP becomes the first oil firm to directly halt its own tankers, after a string of big shipping companies stopped their vessels passing through the waters between Asia and Africa that connect the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean, with the Suez canal at the tip.

Freight companies are sailing ships around Africa instead, adding costs and delays that are expected to mount in coming weeks.

Companies have moved to secure their vessels after attacks by Houthi rebels in protest over Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza. They have fired on commercial ships travelling through the Bab el-Mandeb strait, a narrow channel nicknamed the Gate of Tears for its notorious difficulty to navigate, and on a US warship.

On Monday, Houthis attacked two further commercial ships with naval drones—the MSC Clara, which is a Panama-flagged vessel and the Norwegian-owned Swan Atlantic.

The Swan Atlantic’s owner said the ship had been struck by an unidentified object and its water tank had been damaged but none of the crew were hurt.

BP said in a statement, “In our trading and shipping business, as in all BP businesses, the safety and security of our people and those working on our behalf is BP’s priority.

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

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