BP Pauses Red Sea Shipping

Increased attacks from an armed group are causing global shipping disruptions.

December 20, 2023

Global oil and gas prices rose after energy giant BP announced that it had stopped sending shipments through the Red Sea, an increasingly dangerous route for ships, reported the New York Times. 

Merchant ships and tankers using the vital shipping lane face various deadly attacks from Houthi rebels in Yemen. BP’s announcement raised fears that the Suez Canal would also face further disruption.

“BP has decided to temporarily pause all transits through the Red Sea,” BP said in a statement on Monday that referred to “the deteriorating security situation for shipping.”

On Monday night, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III stated that at least nine other countries have agreed to join the United States in a joint security operation in the Red Sea, reported the Times. He said that the countries joining the operation include Britain, France, Canada, Italy, Norway and Spain.

Earlier today, the Guardian reported that the effort would be called Operation Prosperity Guardian.

The Houthis have been staging attacks since October 7, when Hamas led attacks on Israel. The group is threatening all ships owned and operated by Israel. The attacks have been escalating recently, which “threatens the free flow of commerce, endangers innocent mariners and violates international law,” Austin said in a statement.

Other major shipping companies, including Evergreen, Hapag-Lloyd, Moller-Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping have also recently announced that they would temporarily stop shipping through the area.

Should the attacks continue, there is a risk that oil companies and other shippers may stop using the Suez Canal for an extended period of time, disrupting the flow of oil from Saudi Arabia and Iraq to the rest of the world and affecting oil prices. If those routes are closed, tankers will need to take the long way around the Cape of Good Hope in Africa, burning more fuel in transit and increasing freight rates and insurance premiums.

Fox News offers background on the Houthis, who currently control most of Yemen.