An analysis conducted by Reuters of ship tracking data showed that the movement of tankers Oil And fuel in The Red Sea It was stable in December, although several container ships changed their routes due to attacks Houthi group Which started from Yemen.
The attacks led to high costs Shipping Insurance premiums rose sharply, but their impact on oil flows was less than feared as shipping companies continued to use the main east-west corridor. The Houthis, who said they were targeting ships heading to… Israellargely non-oil cargo shipments.
The additional costs have not made much difference to most shipping companies so far because the cost of using the Red Sea is still affordable compared to sending goods around. Africa. But the situation is worth monitoring as some oil companies such as BP and Equinor shift shipments to the longer route. Experts said that increased shipping costs would likely increase US crude exports to some European buyers.
“We haven't really seen the disruption to tanker traffic that everyone was anticipating,” said Michelle Wiese-Bockman, a shipping analyst at Lloyd's List.
There were 76 tankers loaded with oil and fuel – on average – daily in the south of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden in December, the area near Yemen that witnessed the attacks. This number is only two ships lower than the November average and only three ships lower than the average during the first 11 months of 2023, according to data from the Mary Trace ship tracking service.
Rental prices doubled
The competing ship-tracking service Kepler monitored the crossing of 236 ships daily – on average – in the entire Red Sea and Gulf of Aden region in December, which is slightly more than the daily average of 230 ships in November.
Wiz Bookman reported that the additional cost of sailing via a route Cape of Good Hope Around Africa – rather than through the Red Sea – would make oil delivery trips less profitable.
“So, it will try and move forward,” the Lloyd's List shipping analyst added.
Charter prices have nearly doubled since the beginning of December, according to data from Marhelm, a ship data analysis company.
The cost of shipping oil on board Suezmax tankers is approximately $85,000 per day. These tankers can carry up to one million barrels. The cost of shipping oil on Aframax ships – which can transport 750,000 barrels – is $75,000 per day.
Tanker traffic in the southern Red Sea region declined briefly between December 18 and 22 – when the Houthi group intensified its attacks on ships – to an average of 66 tankers, but movement then resumed, according to the Mary Trace ship tracking service.
Container ship traffic in the region declined more sharply by 28% during December compared to November, with sharp declines in the second half of the month due to the escalation of attacks, according to Marie Trace.
Insistence on taking risks
A data analysis by the London Stock Exchange Group showed that many major oil companies, refineries, and shipping services companies continued to use the Red Sea route.
“Shipping companies and their customers really want to avoid schedule disruptions,” said Calvin Froedig, founder of ship data analytics firm Marhelm. “So they are still taking the risk.”
He pointed out that many of the oil tankers crossing the Red Sea were carrying Russian crude to India, which the Houthis have no interest in attacking.
According to ship tracking data from the London Stock Exchange Group, the ship “Delta Poseidon”, operated by Chevron, crossed the Suez Canal and the Red Sea at the end of December on its way to Singapore.
The data showed that the ship “Sanmar Sarod” – operated by the Indian refining company “Reliance” – also crossed the Red Sea in late December to deliver gasoline components to the United States.
A Chevron spokesman said: We will continue to actively evaluate road safety in the Red Sea and throughout the Middle East and make decisions based on the latest developments.
The Indian Refining Corporation did not respond to a request for comment.
During the past few weeks, other tankers chartered by the “Clearlake” unit of the “Gunvor” trading company, the Indian refining company “Bhart Petroleum” and the “Saudi Aramco Trading” company have crossed this route. These companies declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.
Using the Red Sea could shave about 3,700 nautical miles from a trip from Singapore to Gibraltar.
Some companies, such as BP and Equinor, have temporarily stopped all transit operations through the Red Sea and redirected their ships in the region.
Data from the ship tracking company Fortesca indicate that at least 32 tankers have diverted or taken the Cape of Good Hope route instead of the Suez Canal since the second half of December.
Forteska added that the tankers being diverted are mostly those chartered by companies that announced the temporary suspension of sailing in the Red Sea, or that are managed by American entities or linked to Israel.
Fuel oil traders and bunkerers in Asia said they were still monitoring developments in the Red Sea, although east of Suez was still adequately supplied, so current diversions were unlikely to increase prices.
Kpler data indicate that east-to-west disturbances have mainly affected European imports of diesel and jet fuel so far. Meanwhile, west-to-east diversions have affected some European fuel oil and gasoline shipments to the Middle East, Asia-Pacific and East Africa.
Matt Smith, an analyst at ship tracker Kpler, said the tension there also prompted more oil buyers to look to the United States, and likely played a role in the record increase in crude oil exports to Europe to 2.3 million barrels per day in December.
He added, “The ongoing uncertainty in the Red Sea is likely to stimulate some European purchasing of American crude.”