PARIS, Feb 7 (Reuters) – TotalEnergies has not sent ships through the southern strait leading to the Red Sea and the Suez canal for several weeks, extending its ships’ travel time to Europe, the French oil major said on Wednesday.
The Bab-el-Mandeb strait at the southern end of the Red Sea has been disrupted by Houthi attacks on commercial vessels, driving up freight costs and restricting traffic.
CEO Patrick Pouyanne said that the costs of going through the Red Sea have gone up, partly due to higher insurance costs.
“The conflict between the Houthis and the U.S.-led coalition is having a significant impact on the region. So we’re careful and are no longer crossing the Red Sea,” Pouyanne said.
The Houthis have been targeting commercial vessels with drones and missiles in the Red Sea since mid-November, causing disruptions to international trade traffic and forcing some ships to reroute around the southern tip of Africa.
“It’s four days to make the full trip compared to going through the Red Sea for an LNG carrier,” Pouyanne said.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) said Wednesday that delays in oil product deliveries due to ships being diverted to avoid attacks in the Red Sea were impacting product markets in Europe in particular. (Reporting by Forrest Crellin and Benjamin Mallet; editing by Matt Scuffham)