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15 Jan, 2024 13:10

Major LNG exporter suspends shipping through Red Sea – Reuters

QatarEnergy is reportedly seeking security advice about whether passage is safe
Major LNG exporter suspends shipping through Red Sea – Reuters

A leading global exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), QatarEnergy, has stopped sending tankers via the Red Sea amid growing uncertainty about the safety of passage on the vital shipping route, Reuters reported on Monday.

An unnamed source with knowledge of the matter told the outlet that at least four tankers that used to carry Qatari LNG were held up over the weekend following last week’s air and sea strikes by the US and UK on Yemen in response to Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea.

Ship-tracking data shows that three of those tankers had loaded LNG at Ras Laffan in Qatar and were supposed to head to the Suez Canal but instead stopped off the coast of Oman on January 14, according to the report. The fourth tanker, which was heading back to Qatar, stopped along its route on January 13 in the Red Sea.

“It is a pause to get security advice, if passing (through the) Red Sea remains unsafe we will go via the Cape,” the source was quoted as saying. “It is not a halt of production,” the source added.

According to the LSEG (London Stock Exchange Group) data cited by Reuters, Qatar shipped more than 75 million metric tons of the fuel in 2023, of which 14 million tons were supplied to buyers in Europe and 56.4 million tons to Asia.

Shipping giants have started sending their vessels, including those carrying LNG, on longer and more expensive journeys around southern Africa’s Cape of Good Hope after Yemen-based Houthi rebels instituted a de facto blockade through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. They have been attacking vessels thought to be linked to Israel in what they say is a show of solidarity with the Palestinians following the escalation of hostilities in Gaza.

The Suez Canal is the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia, accounting for about 15% of the world’s shipping traffic. According to a report by the IfW Kiel, global trade plunged by 1.3% from November to December 2023 as a result of the Houthi attacks on merchant vessels in the Red Sea.

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