Rare LNG vessel sails through Red Sea amid Houthi attacks

Most LNG tankers have avoided taking this route after Houthis launched repeated drone and missile strikes in the Red Sea region
Last Updated : 21 June 2024, 09:53 IST

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Singapore: A liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessel is sailing through the Red Sea after crossing the Bab al-Mandab Strait this week, shipping data showed, a rare occurrence for LNG shipments following attacks by Yemeni Houthis on ships in the area.

The Asya Energy vessel passed by Yemen through the Bab al-Mandab Strait on June 18, shiptracking data from LSEG and Kpler showed, the same week as a second ship believed to have been hit by Yemen's Houthi militants sunk.

"Asya Energy is the first LNG tanker to sail through the Bab el Mandeb strait since January this year when LNG voyages through the Red Sea were suspended amid repeated rocket attacks," said LSEG analyst Olumide Ajayi, adding that data showed that the ship is carrying cargo.

Most LNG tankers have avoided taking this route after Houthis launched repeated drone and missile strikes in the Red Sea region. They describe their attacks, which have since expanded to other busy waterways, as acts of solidarity with Palestinians in Israel's war in Gaza.

The Red Sea is linked to the Mediterranean by the Suez Canal, creating the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia, and is connected to the Gulf of Aden by the Bab-el-Mandeb strait between Yemen and Djibouti.

Palau-flagged Asya Energy is heading for Gibraltar, according to Kpler data. It previously called at the Sohar port in Oman, LSEG data showed. It was not immediately clear who is chartering the ship.

Nur Global Shipping manages the ship which is owned by Lule One Services, data on Equasis showed.

Nur Global Shipping did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted on LinkedIn.

Reuters could not find contact information for Lule One Services.

The Asya Energy vessel may soon become the first vessel to sail through the Red Sea passage since Jan. 12 after waiting around the coast of Oman since mid-January, said Ana Subasic, natural gas and LNG analyst at data and analytics firm Kpler.

"At present, AIS (automatic identification system) signal feed to our platform shows the ballast vessel has set a course towards the Gibraltar checkpoint - although I would take this with a grain of salt, it is too early to be making an accurate prediction," she said.

"We are keeping a very close eye on it and waiting for more ad-hoc raw signals or market sources to feed in."

Leading industry groups have called for urgent action to be taken in the Red Sea to stop attacks on merchant shipping by Houthis.

The UK-owned Rubymar was the first ship sunk by the Houthis. It went down on March 2, about two weeks after being struck by missiles.

Published 21 June 2024, 09:53 IST

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