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A tanker transits the Suez Canal. Shutterstock/Anatoly Menzhiliy

A tanker transits the Suez Canal. Shutterstock/Anatoly Menzhiliy

Saudis Boost North Red Sea Oil Exports to Avoid Red Sea Chaos

Total Views: 2493
February 1, 2024

By Julian Lee and Alex Longley (Bloomberg) —

Saudi Arabia significantly increased oil exports from its Muajjiz terminal last month, allowing them to avoid areas in the southern Red Sea that have been attacked by Yemeni Houthi militants.

The kingdom’s western terminal near Yanbu shipped 18 million barrels in January, or 580,000 barrels a day, according to ship tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with 8 million barrels or 258,000 barrels per day a month earlier. 

The US and UK launched airstrikes on Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the middle of January, causing significant disruption to global oil tanker markets. While Saudi Aramco has said publicly that it is continuing to sail its ships through the Red Sea, many other companies — particularly those with links to the US and UK — have chosen to avoid the waterway altogether.

Cargoes that load at Muajjiz are shuttled to the southern end of the Sumed pipeline located in Egypt, before being piped to the Sidi Kerir terminal on the Mediterranean coast. Vessels there pick up the cargoes for onward delivery, mostly to European refiners. Muajjiz is connected to oil fields in eastern Saudi Arabia by the East-West Pipeline.

Saudi Arabia continues to supply its refinery at Jizan on the Red Sea with crude from Ras Tanura shipped on its own tankers through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, the tracking data show.

Some tankers carrying Saudi crude for export continue to run the gauntlet of the southern Red Sea. At least two tankers loading at Muajjiz headed south to Asia through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait in January.

Other are choosing the longer but safer route. At least three tankers carrying Saudi crude from the Persian Gulf to Europe and North America diverted from the Red Sea to haul their cargoes around Africa.

© 2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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