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Red Sea update: First signs of increased Bab el Mandeb passings, but Suez transits hit new low

More Data Storytelling

Key data from Lloyd’s List Intelligence for the week ending February 18, 2024

Numbers reflect cargo-carrying vessels of 10,000dwt+. Pre-Houthi attack 'normal' average taken for the period November 6 - December 3, 2023 (weeks 45-48, 2023).

  • Vessel transits through the Bab el Mandeb strait increased by 7% in the week ending February 18 – the first week on week rise since the Houthi attacks on commercial shipping started 
  • Suez Canal transits fell further in the most recent week – down 8% compared with the previous seven days and 48% lower than the same week in 2023, mainly driven by a significant drop in bulk carrier transits
  • Cape of Good Hope passings increased further to 706 - up 13% week on week and 131% higher than the same period last year

For the first time since the Houthi attacks on commercial shipping in the region started in December, vessel transits through the Bab el Mandeb strait increased week on week. 

For the seven days ending February 18, there were 252 transits, up from 236 in the previous week and the highest since w/e January 21. However, year on year there is a 48% drop compared with 459 in week 7 of 2023. 

In deadweight tonnage (dwt) terms, the total last week was steady at around 18.4m dwt due to a rise in the number of smaller containerships and general cargoships transiting, compared with the previous week.

When compared with the 4-week average prior to the Houthi attacks, Bab el Mandab transits are down 54% and DWT is down 61%.

The US redesignation of the Houthis as a terrorist group came into force on February 16, which has spurred a series of attacks on commercial shipping in the past week. The impact of this is not reflected in this latest update but will be addressed in next week's figures.



Suez Canal transits, on the other hand, fell 8% to 205 in the most recent week, 17 lower in total than in the week ending February 11 and the lowest since the Houthi attacks began. 

For further context, this is down 48% compared to week 7 last year and 57% lower than the pre-attack average. The drop was largely accounted for by fewer bulk carriers transiting the canal. There were 79 bulk carrier transits in the week ending February 20, down from 105 in the week prior. The previous low since mid-December was 92.



Meanwhile, Cape of Good Hope passings saw a 13% jump week on week to 706, compared with 623 in the previous week. When compared with the 4-week average prior to the attacks the increase is 80%, while the same week last year saw 306 vessels passing meaning a 131% year on year rise.

In dwt terms, last week saw 79.7m dwt pass the Cape of Good Hope, up 14% from the previous week’s 69.5m dwt and 57% above the pre-attack average of 50.7m dwt.

The number of bulk carrier passings around the Cape of Good Hope last week jumped to 356, from 294 in the previous seven days, which is up 45% on the pre-attack average of 245. 



For the latest insight, analysis and data, Lloyd’s List subscribers can visit our Red Sea Risk hub here.


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