PARIS (Reuters) – The French oil major said on Wednesday TotalEnergies has not sent ships for several weeks through the southern strait leading to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, extending the travel time of its ships to Europe.
The Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, at the southern end of the Red Sea, has been disrupted by Houthi attacks on commercial vessels, increasing freight costs and restricting traffic.
CEO Patrick Pouyen said the cost of transit through the Red Sea has increased, partly due to higher insurance costs.
“The conflict between the Houthis and the US-led coalition is having a significant impact on the region. That’s why we are cautious and are no longer crossing the Red Sea,” Pouyanane said.
The Houthis have been targeting commercial ships with drones and missiles in the Red Sea since mid-November, disrupting international trade traffic and forcing some ships to divert their course around the southern tip of Africa .
“It takes four days for an LNG carrier to make the entire journey compared to going through the Red Sea,” Pouyen said.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Wednesday that delays in oil product deliveries due to ships being diverted to avoid attacks in the Red Sea were hitting product markets, particularly in Europe.
(Reporting by Forrest Crellin and Benjamin Mallet; Editing by Matt Scuffham)