Unrest in Bab al-Mandab Strait reshapes global LNG trade dynamics

(MENAFN) Recent reports from Bloomberg International, as highlighted by Sky News Arabia, underscore the significant impact of ongoing violence on global energy trade, particularly evident in the Bab al-Mandab Strait. This strategic waterway, separating the Arabian Peninsula from Africa, has notably seen a cessation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker passage for four consecutive months, reflecting the profound repercussions of violent incidents in the region.

Prior to the escalation of conflicts, the Bab al-Mandab Strait facilitated the transit of numerous LNG tankers each month. However, the surge in hostilities, notably the Houthi attacks in Yemen, has precipitated a complete halt in tanker traffic since mid-January. Consequently, maritime vessels have been compelled to seek alternative routes, circumnavigating Africa to bridge the Atlantic and Pacific basins. This diversionary tactic not only elongates transit times but also imposes higher shipping costs, thereby constraining the pool of LNG suppliers available to buyers.

Patrick Dugas, the head of LNG trading at Total Energies, emphasized the current challenges facing the industry during a recent conference. Dugas noted a surplus of cargo between the Atlantic and Pacific basins, complicating inter-basin cargo movements from an economic standpoint. The ensuing fragmentation in the global LNG market underscores the disruptive consequences of geopolitical unrest on trade dynamics.

In response to elevated shipping costs and logistical hurdles, merchants are strategically allocating destinations closer to production sites, aiming to mitigate transportation expenses. This proactive measure assumes heightened significance as anticipation mounts for increased fuel demand ahead of the impending winter season, traditionally characterized by rising shipping costs.

The evolving landscape of LNG trade, catalyzed by disruptions in the Bab al-Mandab Strait, underscores the imperative for industry stakeholders to navigate through geopolitical uncertainties while adapting to shifting market dynamics. As challenges persist, stakeholders must innovate and collaborate to ensure the resilience and stability of global energy supply chains.



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