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An EUNAVFOR warship escorts a merchant vessel in the Red Sea

An EUNAVFOR warship escorts a merchant vessel in the Red Sea. Photo courtesy EUNAVFOR Operation ASPIDES

Frontline CEO Sees Ships Avoiding Red Sea Even With a Ceasefire

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June 12, 2024

By Alex Longley (Bloomberg) —

It’s “naive” to assume merchant vessels will start sailing through the Red Sea again if there’s an agreement to end the war between Israel and Hamas, the boss of a major oil-tanker company said Wednesday. 

Any deal would be fragile and offer no guarantee that seafarers would be safe traveling through the region, according to Lars Barstad, chief executive officer of Frontline Management AS, which runs one of the world’s largest fleets of giant supertankers. 

Houthi rebels in Yemen have been attacking merchant vessels since late last year, ramping up assaults after US and UK strikes on Houthi positions. Traffic through the area is down about 70% compared with early December as ships reroute to sail thousands of miles around Africa, according to Clarkson Research, a unit of the world’s biggest shipbroker. 

Related: Hapag-Lloyd Sees Prolonged Red Sea Reroutings Regardless of Ceasefire

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that Israel had reiterated support for a cease-fire proposal, as America tries to gain momentum for a plan to end the eight-month war. Yet Houthi attacks continue, with the UK Navy reporting that a ship was hit by a “small craft” near Yemen earlier Wednesday. 

© 2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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