Saudi Arabia reopens oil shipments through Yemen's troubled waters

August 6, 2018

Saudi Arabia will resume oil shipments through the troubled Bab al-Mandab, after Riyadh froze oil shipping through the strait following an attack by Yemen rebels.

Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih announced that Saudi oil tankers will resume shipments through the Red Sea on Saturday following a week-long closure of the strait.

'The decision to resume shipping of oil through Bab al-Mandeb comes after all necessary procedures were taken by the coalition leadership to protect ships of the coalition countries,' Saudi Press Agency quoted Falih as saying.

Bab al-Mandab is a narrow strait between Yemen and the Horn of Africa in the Red Sea, and one of the world's most important shipping lanes.

Around 4.8 million barrels of oil pass through the straits every day, much of it to Europe and North America.

It was closed on 26 July when two oil tankers were targeted by suspected Houthi rebels, leading Saudi Arabia to announce it would suspend shipments due to the dangers.

The closure saw oil prices climb to near $75 a barrel, due to expected shortages and fears about instability in the Red Sea.

Yemen's Houthi rebels announced this week it would halt operations in the Red Sea area.

Saudi Arabia has blamed Iran for arming the rebels who control much of Yemen's northern coast and the capital Sanaa.

Israel warned on Thursday that it would take 'joint military action' against Iran if its proxies blockaded the Rea Sea - a key route for Israeli imports and exports.

'At the start of the week we witnessed a sharp clash with Iranian proxies who tried to obstruct international navigation in the straits at the entrance to the Red Sea,' Prime Minister Binyamnin Netanyahu said.

'If Iran tries to block the Bab al-Mandab, I am convinced that it will find itself facing a determined international coalition to prevent this. This coalition would also include the state of Israel and all its arms.'

Yemen has been embroiled in conflict since Houthi rebels took over the capital Sanaa in 2014, forcing the government to flee south.

Killings escalated when a Saudi-led Arab military coalition intervened in 2015, launching hundreds of air strikes in Yemen that have killed thousands.

alaraby