Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia said on Saturday it would resume all oil shipments through the strategic Red Sea shipping lane of Bab al-Mandeb, the state news agency SPA reported.
Saudi Arabia halted temporarily oil shipments through the lane on July 26 after attacks on two big oil tankers by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement.
SPA quoted Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih as saying: “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.”
Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthis in a three-year war, lies beside the southern mouth 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.
The Saudi coalition intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015 to restore the internationally recognised government of exiled president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Saudi Arabia accuses regional foe Iran of supplying missiles to the Houthis, which both Tehran and the Houthis deny.