Saudi oil exports are faltering due to Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden

Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea have been apparent since November 2023 as the bombing and siege of the people of Gaza by the Israeli army intensified. The Houthis say that their attacks come to support the Palestinian people in general and the people of Gaza in particular.

The attacks led many shipping companies to divert their shipments to revolve around the Cape of Good Hope.

Regarding Saudi oil shipments that used to cross the Suez Canal to its customers in Europe, America, and North Africa, Aramco CEO Amin Nasser explained that Saudi oil exports can use a pipeline linking its eastern oil facilities to its western coast, and allowing it to reach the Suez Canal faster, and thus It avoids the Bab al-Mandab Strait near Yemen.

He added that the matter is different for some shipments of petroleum products, which may have to sail around Africa, expecting that the Houthis will not attack Aramco facilities and interests again, especially since the two countries, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, are in peace talks.

Al-Nasser stressed that global oil markets are able to adapt to the disturbances in the Red Sea in the short term, but in the long term the problem will appear clearly due to the decrease in the number of available tankers with the length of the trip they travel across Africa, and more tankers will be needed to make longer trips.

The owners of cargo ships now find themselves facing a difficult choice: either to stop the movement of their ships temporarily until the crisis resolves and tension in the region subsides, or to divert their course from the Red Sea leading to the Suez Canal, which is the shortest and fastest route between Asia and Europe. The alternative route around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa will add about 14 days to the journey, which will lead to a shortage of tankers and an increase in shipping costs due to long journeys, which will therefore delay supplies.


Observers believe that Saudi oil exports to Europe are no longer able to pass through Bab al-Mandab. For crude oil, this means shifting to export through the Red Sea and Yanbu terminals on the western coast of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.