BP halts oil shipments through Red Sea amid growing concerns over rebel attacks

18 December 2023, 13:43 | Updated: 2 January 2024, 07:48

BP has paused its shipments through the Red Sea (stock images)
BP has paused its shipments through the Red Sea (stock images). Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

BP has halted oil shipments through the Red Sea amid growing concerns over rebel attacks.

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BP said it had witnessed a "deteriorating security situation" for its shipments.

Iranian-backed Houthi militants have stepped up attacks on vessels in the Red Sea in recent days.

They are understood to be targeting ships using the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, with the pro-Hamas group seeking to disrupt ships set for Israel.

"In our trading & shipping business, as in all BP businesses, the safety and security of our people and those working on our behalf is BP's priority," BP said.

"In light of the deteriorating security situation for shipping in the Red Sea, BP has decided to temporarily pause all transits through the Red Sea.

"We will keep this precautionary pause under ongoing review, subject to circumstances as they evolve in the region."

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Several shipping firms have already paused container shipments through the area due to the surge in attacks.

Danish firm Maersk said it would suspend its activity in the region following a near miss involving one of its ships on Thursday.

Guy Platten, Secretary-general of the International Chamber of Shipping, told LBC News: “Shipping companies are evaluating the situation on an hour-by hour-basis.

"We heard on Friday and Saturday that Maersk, MSC, Hapag Lloyd amongst others have all paused traffic going through the Red Sea.

"We know others are considering their options as well and quite frankly we're deploring the actions of what's going on.

"It's flagrant breach of international law and the concern of shipping companies is going to be about their seafarers and that's why they're rapidly evaluating the situation."

It comes after a British-owned ship was previously hit by a missile in the Red Sea.

The Bahamas-flagged Unity Explorer, which is owned by a British company, was one of three commercial vessels targeted in a drone and missile assault at the start of the month.

US military Central Command said the ship sustained minor damage in the attack.