Oil giant BP becomes latest company to pause journeys through Red Sea after militant attacks

A US lead task force will patrol and provide intelligence as tankers and shipping vessels face sustained attacks in the Red Sea, ITV News Economics and Business Editor Joel Hills explains how this will impact world trade

Oil giant BP has paused all of its tanker journeys through the Red Sea due to attacks by militants in Yemen.

Iranian-backed Houthi militants have stepped up attacks on vessels in the Red Sea in recent days.

The company said: “In our trading & shipping business, as in all BP businesses, the safety and security of our people and those working on our behalf is BP’s priority.

“In light of the deteriorating security situation for shipping in the Red Sea, BP has decided to temporarily pause all transits through the Red Sea.

“We will keep this precautionary pause under ongoing review, subject to circumstances as they evolve in the region."

The announcement comes after Copenhagen-based Maersk paused its tanker journeys through the Red Sea.

In a statement released last Friday, Maersk said recent attacks on commercial vessels in the southern Red Sea “are alarming and pose a significant threat to the safety and security of seafarers.”

“We have instructed all Maersk vessels in the area bound to pass through the Bab al-Mandab Strait to pause their journey until further notice.

"The assaults by the Iran-backed Houthis have been part of their pressure campaign over the Israel-Hamas war raging in the Gaza Strip.

Houthis have attacked vessels in the Red Sea and launched drones and missiles targeting Israel.

Yemen's Houthis claim they targeted Israeli-linked ships in Red Sea.

In recent days, they have threatened to attack any vessel they believe is either going to or coming from Israel, though several vessels targeted had no apparent link.

They have used drones and anti-ship missiles to attack vessels and in one case used a helicopter to seize an Israeli-owned ship and its crew.

Maersk said a missile was fired at but missed one of its container ships traveling from Oman to Saudi Arabia last Thursday.

Oil and gas prices increased on Monday due to the potential disruption caused by the shipping issues.

Brent crude oil increased by around 1% to 77.2 US dollars per barrel.

Meanwhile, wholesale oil prices rose more sharply, with the European benchmark for gas, Dutch front month futures, rising by over 7% to over 35 euros be per megawatt hour.

The shipping route is a key area for global trade, particularly for the transport of oil, grain and consumer goods from east Asia.

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