With Middle East giants Saudi Arabia and Iran squaring up on opposing sides in the Yemen war, the dangers to vital oil tanker and goods voyages are growing daily.
Millions of barrels of oil pass through the Bab el-Mandeb and Strait of Hormuz everyday to Europe, the United States and Asia – waterways which pass along the coasts of Yemen and Iran respectively. Insurance costs for shippers are likely to jump.
Last week Iran released Marshall-Islands container ship Maersk Tigris and its crew which were seized in the Strait of
Hormuz. This prompted the United States to send vessels to temporarily accompany U.S. flagged ships through the strait. Iranian patrol boats had shadowed a separate container ship earlier last month.
“The whole area is a tinder box now,” said John Dalby of Marine Risk Management Ltd, which provides private armed security teams for ships in the area.