Worries for Ships Off Yemen

When it comes to world trade, a 17-day shortcut trumps terror, piracy and now bombs. That’s the time a supertanker saves by using the Bab el-Mandeb. 

Add Bombs to Worries for Ships Dodging Pirates, Terror Off Yemen

When it comes to world trade, a 17-day shortcut trumps terror, piracy and now bombs.

That’s the time a supertanker saves by using the Bab el-Mandeb waterway that skirts Yemen at the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula, rather than sailing around Africa. Shipping groups say there’s no sign yet that the sea lanes are disrupted after Saudi Arabia and its allies started a bombing campaign against Shiite rebels in Yemen.

Vessels use the waterway to reach the Suez Canal, a route that handles about 20 percent of all trade and almost 7 percent of oil and fuel cargoes. Shipments continued after terror attacks off Yemen in 2000 and 2002 and expanded since at least 2009 even as piracy spread. Europe, the U.S. and other nations operate military craft in the area and the country’s coast has the highest possible risk rating for insurers.

“There’s no way that the Bab el-Mandeb could ever be closed because it’s too important,” Andreas Krieg, assistant professor at the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London, said by phone Thursday. “A huge security industry has evolved around exactly that area because it is such an important point for world trade.”

Bimco, the biggest trade group for ship owners, said Friday that there’s been no disruption so far, while cautioning that risks could rise…

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Source: Hellenic Shipping News.

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