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Red Sea update: Number of crude tankers transiting Bab el Mandeb rebounds to ‘normal’ level

More Data Storytelling

Key data from Lloyd’s List Intelligence for the week ending February 25, 2024

Numbers reflect cargo-carrying vessels of 10,000dwt+. Pre-Houthi attack ‘normal’ average taken for the period November 6 - December 3, 2023.

  • Vessels transiting the Bab el Mandeb strait increased by 2% week on week but in deadweight tonnage terms, it grew by 17%. The number of crude oil tankers leaped 65% week on week, returning to ‘normal’ levels
  • The number of active vessels in the Red Sea was up 12% compared with the previous week, but remains 36% fewer than in the same period last year
  • Suez Canal transits jumped by 24% in vessel terms and 25% in dwt terms in the most recent week
  • Cape of Good Hope passings fell by 1% in vessel terms compared with the previous week but the total number is still up 78% against the normal average

Despite the increasing frequency of Houthi attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea in recent weeks, the number of cargo-carrying vessels over 10,000dwt increased to a daily average of 240 in the week ending February 25, up from 213 vessels in the previous week.

The number is considerably down on the 380-vessel average recorded in the same week of 2023 but may be a sign that trade in the region is reaching a degree of stability that is encouraging the return of some carriers.

Earlier this week, Lloyd’s List reported that CMA CGM sent at least one and most likely two of its vessels through the Bab el Mandeb strait last week, despite public statements that it would no longer use the route.

Total Bab el Mandeb transits increased to at least 261 vessels in the most recent week, up by around 2% from the previous seven days, with the dwt total increasing 17% to 21.9m dwt.

The increases were largely driven by crude oil tankers, with 79 vessels transiting in the week ending February 25, up from 48 the week before and above the ‘normal’ average of 78 in the weeks prior to the Houthi attacks.

However, there were significant drops for boxship traffic, down to 29 from 43 week on week, and bulk carriers – down to 97 from 113.



These are the early figures but the data will be revised upwards when more information on dark transits becomes available.

There was also a considerable leap in Suez Canal transits last week, up 24% to 255, although this is still some way below the ‘normal’ week average of 476.

Bulk Carrier traffic through the canal was up to 116 vessels from 79 in the week prior, while crude oil tanker transits were up to 62 from 52 previously.



Finally, passings round the Cape of Good Hope fell marginally to 696 vessels but remains 78% higher than the ‘normal’ average of 392. When compared to the same week last year, passings are 120% higher overall. There were no significant declines by vessel type, with bulk carrier passings down to 349 from 356, and for product tankers it was 57 compared with 65 in the previous seven days.  

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


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As our data shows, the Red Sea attacks on commercial shipping have seen major carriers withdraw operations from the region, vessels divert around Africa and global supply chains shift.

At the same time, regulators in the US, UK and EU continue to ramp up pressure on those that are facilitating the trade in Russian oil products, with new sanctions targeting companies and individuals, and tightening compliance rules adding to the regulatory burden for shipping operators.

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