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Houthi Attacks Spark Concerns Over Energy and Trade Security

Reports of several attacks with drones and ballistic missiles by Yemeni Houthis in the Red Sea have sparked concern about the security of global maritime trade, notably including energy.

The latest report of an attack came last weekend when the U.S. Navy said Houthis had targeted three commercial vessels in the Bab el Mandeb strait with drones and ballistic missiles.

Now, the Financial Times reports, shipowners are calling for greater military presence along the main maritime transport routes in the Middle East.

“When you see three ships attacked [on the same day] in the same geographic area that implies we are a bit short of resources,” the head of security at Bimco, the body representing the global shipping industry, told the FT.

“The oil market has become too complacent about risks that the Gaza conflict will expand regionally and threaten oil and gas infrastructure and shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf,” said Bob McNally from Rapidan Energy, speaking to the FT.

According to him, the chance of a disruption in maritime trade in the region is as high as 30%, the report said.

“These attacks represent a direct threat to international commerce and maritime security,” the U.S. Central Command said in a statement on Monday. “They have jeopardized the lives of international crews representing multiple countries around the world.”

 Also on Monday, U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan said Washington was in talks with other countries for the setting up of a task force to guard ships in the region.

The Houthis, who are supported by Iran, started targeting vessels in the Red Sea last month.

They seized a cargo ship linked to an Israeli businessman, sparking speculation that more such attacks will follow against Israeli-owned vessels. Indeed, another attempt at a seizure did follow but despite initial reports blaming the Houthis for it, it turned out that the attackers were pirates, according to the Pentagon.

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By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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