More ships carrying grain were diverted from the Suez Canal to routes around the Cape of Good Hope this week as attacks on shipping in the Red Sea continued, analysts said on Friday.
About 7 million metric tons per month of grain cargoes usually transit the Suez Canal into the Red, but that has dropped significantly as Iran-backed Houthi militants have continued attacks on shipping despite U.S.-led air strikes on Houthi positions in Yemen.
“We calculate that another 12 vessels were diverted away from the Red Sea this week, carrying a total of about 700,000 metric tons of grain,” said Ishan Bhanu, lead agricultural commodities analyst at data provider and analyst Kpler.
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“A total of about 4.5 to 4.6 million tons of grains cargo has avoided the Red Sea since December. We also saw more wheat being shipped from France and the Black Sea to Asia diverting away from the Red Sea.”
Many bulk carriers are still transporting grain through the region, however.
“A lot of vessels originating in the Black Sea are still taking the Red Sea route,” Bhanu said. “Diversion is more expensive for these vessels compared with those sailing from Europe or the United States.”
Commodity traders said it has become more difficult but not impossible to book ships for Red Sea sailings.
“It is hard but you can still find ships,” said one European grain trader involved in booking vessels for cereal exports to Asia. “Freight costs have risen and not all want to sail through the Red Sea even with a premium, but some will.”
One German shipping analyst said that some ship owners already operating in war-torn Ukraine are more willing to take the risk of traversing the Red Sea.
“Some vessels carrying Ukrainian grain exports to Asia are still transiting the Red Sea,” the analyst said. “These owners were already willing to accept the high risk to their ships and crews by loading in Ukraine.”
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Michael Hogan, Editing by David Goodman)