Despite a stated temporary halt in oil shipments through the Bab el-Mandeb strait, an unladen Saudi-owned VLCC traversed the strait last weekend.
2002-built, Saudi-flagged, 164,292 gt Hilwah (IMO 9237773), owned by Saudi state shipping company Bahri and managed by Mideast Ship management of Dubai, appeared to cross the strait on Sunday on its way from Yanbu to Saudi’s main export terminal Ras Tanura, according to S&P Global Platts trade flow software cFlow, reported SPGlobal. As of the afternoon of Thursday August 2nd local time, Hilwah was heading west in the Gulf of Oman, north of Muscat, in the direction of the Bab el-Mandeb strait.
It was unclear whether the Saudi ban was only intended to apply to tankers carrying a cargo.
Two other Bahri-owned VLCCs, 2002-built 159,990 gt Abqaiq (IMO 9247182) and 2010-built 161,969 gt Arsan (IMO 9421415) were seen approaching the Bab el-Mandeb last week but, as of Thursday August 2nd, neither has updated their locations on AIS since then, according to the MarineTraffic site. Abqaiq was damaged in April by a Houthi attack off the west coast of Yemen.
The bulk of Europe’s crude oil imports from the Middle East pass through Bab el-Mandeb into the Red Sea and then through the Sumed pipeline via northern Egypt or the Suez Canal, while the Middle East and Asia receive refined products from Europe via the strait.
Hilwah is entered with Britannia P&I Club.
Arsan is also entered with Britannia.
Abqaiq is entered with Assuranceforeningen Gard – gjensidig -.