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Saudi Arabia to resume oil exports through Red Sea lane

The country had halted temporarily oil shipments through the lane on July 26 after attacks on two big oil tankers by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement.

Leading oil exporter Saudi Arabia stated on Saturday that it would resume all the oil shipments through the strategic Red Sea shipping lane of Bab al-Mandeb, according to state news agency SPA –after halting them initially on July 26 after the attacks.

Energy minister Khalid al-Falih stated: “”The decision to resume shipping of oil through Bab al-Mandeb comes after all necessary procedures were taken by the coalition leadership to protect ships of the coalition countries.”, according to SPA.

Saudi Aramco confirmed that shipping had resumed effective immediately.

“The company is careful to continue monitoring and evaluating the current situation in coordination with the relevant bodies and take all necessary procedures to ensure safety,” Aramco said in a statement.

Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthis in a three-year long war, lies along the southern end of the Red Sea– one of the most important trade routes in the world for oil tankers. The tankers pass near Yemen’s shores while heading from the Middle East through the Suez Canal to Europe.

The Bab al-Mandeb strait, where the Red Sea meets the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea, is only 20 km (12 miles) wide, making hundreds of ships potentially an easy target. Around 4.8 million barrels of oil and petroleum products pass through the strait every day, according to US government figures.

After Saudi’s decision to halt shipments, Yemen’s Houthi group had stated on July 31 it would halt attacks in the Red Sea for two weeks to support peace efforts.

The Saudi coalition had intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015 to restore the internationally recognized government of exiled president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Saudi Arabia has accused regional foe Iran of supplying missiles to the Houthis– which both Tehran and the Houthis have denied.

On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also issued a warning to Iran– that his own country would join military action to stop Tehran if it ever attempted to block the strait.

-GBO Correspondent

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