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More Than 100 Cargo Vessels Rerouted Amid Attacks in Red Sea

Updated: Jan 12

Houthi rebel attacks near Yemen's coast have impacted global shipping and oil prices, with significant implications for the world’s supply chain and economy.


More than 100 cargo vessels have been rerouted amid Red Sea attacks.
Credit: Unsplash

CAIRO – In a dramatic escalation of regional tensions, attacks by the Houthi rebels near Yemen’s western coast have compelled the rerouting of over 100 container ships, traditionally plying through the vital Suez Canal. This significant shift in maritime traffic is reshaping global shipping dynamics and fueling economic uncertainty.


Major shipping corporations, including Kuehne and Nagel, report that 103 vessels have already altered their courses, opting for the longer journey around southern Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. This detour, adding approximately 6,000 nautical miles to the standard Asia-Europe route, could extend delivery times by three to four weeks.


The Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels, citing Israel's activities in Gaza as their motivation, have claimed responsibility for these assaults. Their actions have prompted a strong response from the United States, which is now spearheading an initiative to form a naval alliance to safeguard transit through the Suez Canal.

The disruption has not only affected container shipping but also the oil and gas sector.


Prominent companies like BP have had to reroute their tankers, leading to a noticeable impact on oil markets. Brent crude oil prices have risen by 1.2%, climbing to over $80 from below $74 in the preceding week. This escalation could potentially reduce the world’s fleet capacity by 20%, hindering the timely deployment of shipping resources and exacerbating the already strained global supply chain.


Analysts warn that the ongoing instability could further complicate the return of empty shipping containers to Asia, essential for maintaining supply chain fluidity. The affected vessels are capable of carrying 1.3 million 20-foot containers, a situation closely monitored by global businesses, including major automakers, for potential impacts on their supply chains.


While the immediate retail sector may not face significant disruptions over the Christmas season, thanks to pre-built inventory, there is growing concern about longer-term impacts. This includes potential shortages of consumer goods and manufacturing components, reminiscent of the effects seen during the six-day blockade of the Suez Canal by the Ever Given container ship in March 2021.


The unfolding situation is a stark reminder of the fragility of global supply chains and the far-reaching consequences of geopolitical conflicts on international trade and economy. As the world watches, the interplay between regional conflicts and global commerce continues to underscore the interconnected nature of our modern economic landscape.

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