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Red Sea update: Charterers reassess risk and trade lanes shift

More Data Storytelling

Key data from Lloyd’s List Intelligence for the week ending January 28, 2024

  • The number of cargo-carrying active vessels (10,000dwt+) that are not berthed or anchored in the Red Sea fell to 199 in the w/e January 28, down from 221 last week and 366 in the corresponding week last year
  • The number of cargo-carrying vessel (10,000dwt+) transits through the Suez Canal is down 16% week on week and down 45% compared to the same week in 2023
  • Cargo-carrying vessel (10,000dwt+) transits around the Cape of Good Hope are up 4% from last week and 78% higher year-on-year

Tanker operators are rerouting vessels away from the Red Sea in the wake of a Houthi attack which left a Trafigura-chartered vessel in flames over the weekend

The targeting of the vessel, which the Houthis claimed was a “British oil ship” seemingly on the basis that a UK-based company services a financial lease on the vessel, has raised concerns that all ships in the region could be at risk.

While several major charterers continue to sail through the risk zone, the latest swathe of diversions come as overall vessel activity in the Red Sea has fallen to a new low.

The week ending January 28 saw the lowest vessel activity in the Red Sea since shipowners and charterers in all sectors first started to reroute around the Cape of Good Hope in November last year.

According to Lloyd’s List Intelligence vessel-tracking data just 199 cargo-carrying ships over 10,000 dwt were active in the Red Sea. 

That puts the weekly daily average of active ships at 229, down from 255 the week prior and down from 367 over the same period last year. The number of transiting vessels is likely higher given that some ships are opting to turn off their Automatic Identification System signals during Red Sea activity, however the figures point to a clear continuing trend of rerouting.

Read more on Lloyd’s List here



The number of product and crude oil tankers transiting Bab el Mandab last week remains well below the average for the period prior to the Houthi escalation in attacks on shipping. 

Product tanker transits fell to 36, down 1 from last week but around half the average number of this vessel type that transited the strait in the 4 week period from November 6 to December 3. 

Similarly, crude oil tanker transits last week were 63, up from 56 in the prior week but down from the average of 78 recorded previously. 



The diversions and resulting shift in trade routes is apparent in the latest numbers for Suez Canal transits and Cape of Good Hope passings.

Suez Canal transits by cargo-carrying vessels (10,000dwt+) fell to 241 in the w/e January 28, down 16% from the previous week and 45% lower than the corresponding period last year. Weekly average transits in the November 6 – December 3 period were around 475 per week. 



In contrast, as vessels are redirected around Africa, Cape of Good Hope passings by cargo-carrying vessels above 10,000dwt have jumped to 588 in the most recent week, up 4% week on week and 78% higher than in the same week in 2023. 

For more information, please visit the Lloyd’s List Red Sea Risk hub where you will find the latest insight, analysis and data on the crisis and its impact on shipping.