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Red Sea ships attacks push 47% more crude oil, fuels, refined products around Africa

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Global crude oil and oil products shipments taking the long route between Asia, the Middle East and the West are up 47% since attacks began on vessels using the shorter Red Sea route, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Tuesday.

The longer route around the Cape of Good Hope to avoid attacks by Yemen's Houthis has pushed up shipping costs, as about 12% of world total shipping traffic historically sailed through the Red Sea and Egypt's Suez Canal.

About 8.7 MMbpd of crude and refined products took the Southern Africa route in the first five months of 2024, from an average of 5.9 MMbpd in 2023, with oil product volumes making up most of the increase, the EIA said based on ship tracking data from Vortexa.

Saudi Arabia and Iraq sent more crude oil to Europe around the Cape, rather than through the Red Sea and Suez Canal, accounting for 15% of the total increase.

Asian and Middle Eastern refiners increased their refined product exports to Europe and diverted the cargoes around the Cape, representing 29% of the increased trade.

The U.S. received crude oil and refined products from the Middle East and Asia and sent more products to Asia around the Cape, the EIA noted, adding that total U.S. trade around the cape rose by about one-third, or just over 600,000 bpd.

Attacks on Russian vessels have been frequent since the Houthis say their attacks on shipping are acts of solidarity with Palestinians over the war in Gaza.

Russia sent nearly four times as much crude oil and refined products, including volumes from the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, to Asia around the Cape in the first five months of 2024 than in 2023.

(Reporting by Arathy Somasekhar in Houston; Editing by Josie Kao)


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