Three Qatari liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers have altered their course, opting for a longer journey via the Cape of Good Hope.
Three out of four tankers transporting Qatari liquefied natural gas (LNG) have diverted their course, opting to avoid the Red Sea. These vessels are now undertaking a lengthier journey around the Cape of Good Hope, according to recent shipping data, reported by Reuters.
This development follows a new strike by the U.S. military in Yemen on Tuesday against Houthi-controlled anti-ship ballistic missile sites.
The Houthis in Yemen announced at the start of Israel’s brutal war on Gaza that they will be targeting vessels bound for Israel in the southern Red Sea.
The redirection of shipping routes has had a considerable impact. LNG vessels, among others, have either paused or rerouted from the Red Sea, which leads to the Suez Canal — the fastest Asia-Europe freight path.
Consequently, ships are now compelled to navigate around Africa via the Cape of Good Hope.
Specifically, three Qatari LNG tankers — the Al Ghariya, Al Huwaila, and Al Nuaman — are veering south/southeast away from the Red Sea, as per data from ICIS and Kpler.
Despite this detour, these tankers are still slated to reach European destinations by February 7, having been stationary off the coast of Oman since January 14.
In contrast, the LNG tanker Al Rekayyat has resumed its voyage through the Red Sea, heading back to Qatar after being halted since January 13, as indicated by LSEG data.
Responses from shipowners and managers, including Teekay Shipping Glasgow, Pronav Ship Management, and Nakilat Shipping Qatar Ltd, have not been forthcoming.
Similarly, British oil giant Shell, which manages the Al Nuaman via its shipping and chartering arm STASCO, has not provided a statement.
Following the recent U.S. and UK strikes, Shell reportedly suspended all Red Sea shipments indefinitely, as per the Wall Street Journal.
The situation is not unique to Qatari vessels. Russian ships, such as the Lena River and Yenisei River, have also diverted from the Red Sea, with the former now en route to Tianjin, China, and the latter heading towards South-Central Asia. These vessels are owned by Yamal LNG.
While the longer journey might lead to delivery delays, Europe’s healthy gas storage levels provide some cushion.
S&P data reveals that Qatari LNG cargoes through the Suez Canal amount to 14.8 million metric tons per annum (MTPA), with U.S. and Russian cargoes contributing 8.8 MTPA and 3.7 MTPA, respectively.
Despite these shipping concerns, front-month European benchmark gas prices at the Dutch TTF hub closed lower on Tuesday, influenced by milder weather forecasts and robust storage levels.
In 2023, Qatar’s LNG exports exceeded 75 MTPA, with 14 MTPA destined for Europe and 56.4 MTPA for Asia, according to LSEG data.