Seven Saudi tankers appear to have shut off their transponders that make their position visible to the world after last week’s Houthi attack on two VLCCs in the Red Sea, according to S&P Global Platts trade flow software cFlow.
Two unnamed Saudi-owned VLCCs were attacked off the west coast of Yemen last week, prompting state-owned Saudi Aramco to halt all oil shipments through the Bab al-Mandab strait at the bottom of the Red Sea. A total of seven tankers owned by Saudi state shipping company Bahri now appear to have shut off their transponders, according to cFlow, keeping their location hidden.
The VLCCs Arsan and Abqaiq have not updated their location since the mornings of July 23 and 25, respectively, when they were heading towards Bab al-Mandab.
Three part-laden VLCCs, the Khuzama, the TI Hawtah and the Marjan, were gathering at the southwest corner of Oman off the port of Salalah, but have not updated their location since July 30-31. Another, the Khafji, was heading past Oman towards the Red Sea when it was last heard from early on August 1.
And the chemicals tanker NCC Reem was in the Gulf of Aden carrying a cargo towards the Red Sea when it last updated its location, on the morning of 1 August.
The operators of the tankers may have determined that keeping their locations visible while operating near Yemen presents a security risk. The rest of the Bahri fleet operating elsewhere in the world appears to be updating its location as normal, according to cFlow.
Spokesmen for Saudi Aramco and Bahri were not immediately available for comment.