The still-escalating conflict between Gaza-based Hamas military forces and the state of Israel has disrupted commercial operations in the maritime sector, although currently only to a limited degree.
On Monday October 9th US-based oil major Chevron said that the Israeli authorities had asked it to shut down production at the Tamar platform, which is located off the coast of Ashdod, near to the northern boundary of Gaza and within rocket distance of the Gaza shore.
Chevron produces gas via a long pipe to the Tamar field, located 80 nm to the north. The gas supplies are piped ashore near Ashdod.
Israel’s energy ministry said the Tamar shutdown would affect the gas supply for Israel’s natural gas-fired powerplants. These plants will switch to alternative fuels. Israel has declared an energy state of emergency, allowing preferential allocation of natural gas if there are shortages.
The Leviathan gas field off Haifa, as big as its name suggests, was continuing operations uninterrupted.
A number of cruise lines have had the schedules of some of their ships thrown into disarray. Certain scheduled October port calls for:
Norwegian Gem (IMO 9355733), 93,530 gt, 2007-built, Bahamas-flagged
Norwegian Jade (IMO 9304057), 93,558 gt, 2006-built, Bahamas-flagged
Nautica (Oceania Cruises) (IMO 9200938), 30,277 gt, 2000-built, Marshall Islands-flagged
Sirena (Oceania Cruises) (IMO 9187899), 30,277 gt, 1999-built, Marshall Islands-flagged
Seven Seas Voyager (IMO 9247144), 42,363 gt, 2003-built, Bahamas-flagged
Rhapsody of the Seas (IMO 9116864), 78,878 gt, 1997-built, Bahamas-flagged
Odyssey of the Seas (IMO 9795737), 167,704 gt, 2021-built, Bahamas-flagged
and Celebrity Apex (IMO 9838383), 130,818 gt, 2020-built, Malta-flagged
have been changed. The Celebrity Apex was on a 10-night- circular trip from Piraeus which set off on October 6th. It spent October 7th at sea and offered an overnight call in Limassol on October 8th and 9th.
Celestyal has cancelled all calls at Israeli ports right up to the end of November, according to one report.
Oceania Nautica was in port at Haifa when Hamas attacked. However, Haifa is a considerable distance from the conflict, meaning that the ship was able to depart on schedule.
The Mein Schiff 5 (IMO 9753193) (98,785 gt, 2016-built, Malta-flagged), which is currently on a week-long cruise in the Eastern Mediterranean, cancelled plans to call at Haifa (October 11th) and Ashdod (October 12th). The port calls will be replaced by Marmaris and Santorini. Other shipping companies were trying to find alternative ports, but berths in the surrounding region are in high demand as a number of cruise ships bypass Israel anyway. There is therefore the possibility that for some ships the port calls will have to be replaced by days at sea.
No route changes have yet been announced for the second Mein Schiff 5 cruise on the Eastern Mediterranean route with Israel, which is scheduled to depart on October 22nd. From the look of the situation at the moment, Ashdod is very unlikely to be available, while the cruise ship company and its passengers and crew might be less than confident about calling at Haifa, even if Israel says it is safe and secure.
Chartering platform Shipfix said that “while the immediate effects on shipping and commodities are likely to be limited, diplomatic and other developments in the broader region could have longer-term consequences that could affect seaborne trade”.
Analysts at Norway-based brokerage Fearnleys said that the war was unlikely to affect shipping markets directly. However, they did note that the outbreak of the conflict eliminated what little chance there was of sanctions on Iran being lifted or even eased.
Arctic Securities said however that “the history of conflicts in the Middle Eastern Gulf is that tonnage demand rises in response to oil shortage fears. The impact on rates depends on the conflict as well as the fundamental market backdrop. In this case, we see the tanker market as very tight. Demand is on the rise seasonally and the Israel-Hamas war is expected to add to this. We look for the VLCC market see the biggest impact.”