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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Maersk expects Red Sea shipping chaos to last for months

Shipping containers are piled atop the container ship Maersk Essex at the Port of Los Angeles in March 2021.  (Bing Guan/Bloomberg)
By Ruth Liao Bloomberg

The chaos impacting shipping through the Red Sea is threatening to continue for months, according to the world’s second-largest container line A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S.

The Copenhagen-based company posted a notice on Friday showing 15 container-line routes affected between Asia and Europe, as well as from the U.S. East Coast to the Middle East.

More than 150 tankers listed in the notice servicing ports that include Singapore, Rotterdam and along Texas and the U.S. East Coast now have revised arrival dates, some extending into March.

Houthi attacks on merchant ships have caused widespread avoidance of the southern Red Sea by the merchant fleet moving everything from manufactured goods and grains to oil and gas.

The U.S. government has worked to thwart the attacks, while the Yemeni Houthi forces vowed to continue the assaults.

The extra costs and delays pose risks to the global economy, just as inflation looked set to be cooling.

The area in question is an unavoidable seaway for any vessel seeking to access Egypt’s Suez Canal, which shortens the journey between Asia and Europe.

Avoiding it means sailing thousands of miles further around Africa.

Since the start of the week, global shippers have redirected vessels to avoid the threats, extending voyage times for merchant and energy tankers.

Tanker traffic has dropped sharply through the key Bab al-Mandab Strait.

An oil tanker hired by Norway’s Equinor ASA that came to a halt in the Red Sea six days ago has performed a u-turn and is now sailing back toward the Suez Canal.

Remapping around the Suez Canal also comes as the world’s other critical global trade route, the Panama Canal, has come under threat due to reduced traffic as a result of drought limiting the canal’s water supply.