The Saudi Arabian-led coalition of anti-Houthi forces attacking Yemen has tightened the blockade on Yemen's ports affecting shipping activity including the delivery and loading of oil and gas shipments.
Ships are unlikely to be able to access ports in areas that the coalition deems to be under Houthi rebel control. Navigation in Yemen’s territorial waters has been banned and ships are not allowed into Yemen unless inspected and approval by the Saudi-led coalition forces.
The Grace Acacia, a Bahamas-flagged liquefied natural gas tanker, was scheduled to load cargo at the Balhaf LNG terminal on Friday, but the loading has been delayed and the tanker is currently anchored at the Fujairah port in the United Arab Emirates
, a trader said.
Ocean Marine Services, which acts as the Yemen-based agent for the ship, said in a letter to the director of the Yemeni Red Sea Ports Authority, that the Lycavitos, carrying 47,250 tonnes of wheat, had been stopped from entering al-Saleef port, north of Hodeidah.
Yemen imports more than 90 percent of its food, including most of its wheat and all its rice, to feed a population of 25 million. Much of its needs had been serviced by foreign ships.
The coalition has deployed naval vessels to intercept ships carrying arms to the rebels, although merchant ships are meant to have free passage. But many shipping companies are now unwilling to risk their vessels, industry sources say.
Marine insurer Skuld P&I said in a weekend advisory note that it has received reports of an increasingly tight blockade at Yemeni ports. "Members [of the insurer] with vessels at Yemen, or proceeding to Yemen need to urgently review the situation in the light of this development," it said.
UK P&I Club's website noted: "The Arabian Coalition forces do not allow any vessels, coming from Bab-el-Mandeb to enter the Yemeni territorial waters without permission." In particular, the port of Al Hudaydah (Hodeida), which has served as the main port of exodus for foreign nationals, is now closed to commercial shipping.