Rare LNG vessel sails through Red Sea amid Houthi attacks, data shows

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A liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessel is sailing through the Red Sea after crossing the Bab al-Mandeb Strait this week, shipping data showed, a rare occurrence for LNG shipments following attacks by Yemeni Houthis on ships in the area.

The Asya Energy vessel passed by Yemen through the Bab al-Mandeb Strait on June 18, shiptracking data from LSEG and Kpler showed, the same week as a second ship believed to have been hit by Yemen’s Houthi militants sunk.

“Asya Energy is the first LNG tanker to sail through the Bab al-Mandeb Strait since January this year when LNG voyages through the Red Sea were suspended amid repeated rocket attacks,” said LSEG analyst Olumide Ajayi, adding that data showed that the ship is carrying cargo.

Most LNG tankers have avoided taking this route after Houthis launched repeated drone and missile strikes in the Red Sea region. They describe their attacks, which have since expanded to other busy waterways, as acts of solidarity with Palestinians in Israel’s war in Gaza.

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The Red Sea is linked to the Mediterranean by the Suez Canal, creating the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia, and is connected to the Gulf of Aden by the Bab-al-Mandeb Strait between Yemen and Djibouti.

Palau-flagged Asya Energy is heading for Gibraltar, according to Kpler data. It previously called at the Sohar port in Oman, LSEG data showed.

It was not immediately clear who had chartered the ship.

Nur Global Shipping manages the ship, which is owned by Lule One Services, Equasis data showed, with both companies based in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Nur Global Shipping did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted on LinkedIn.

Reuters could not find contact information for Lule One Services.

The Asya Energy may soon become the first vessel to take the Red Sea passage since Jan. 12 after waiting around the coast of Oman since mid-January, said Ana Subasic, natural gas and LNG analyst at data and analytics firm Kpler.

“At present, automatic identification system (AIS) signal feed to our platform shows the ballast vessel has set a course toward the Gibraltar checkpoint, although... it is too early to be making an accurate prediction,” she said.

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“We are keeping a very close eye on it and waiting for more ad-hoc raw signals or market sources to feed in.”

Leading industry groups have called for urgent action in the Red Sea to stop attacks on merchant shipping by the Houthis, whose first ship sunk was the British-owned Rubymar, on March 2, about two weeks after being struck by missiles.

Read more:

Action should be taken in the Red Sea as Houthis sink second vessel: Shipping groups

US military destroys nine Houthi drones in the past 24 hours

US forces attack Houthi targets in Yemen

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