Two tanker owners suspend Gulf bookings as tension now ‘as high as it gets’

Fire and smoke billow from the Norwegian owned Front Altair tanker in the Gulf of Oman. (AFP)
Updated 13 June 2019

Two tanker owners suspend Gulf bookings as tension now ‘as high as it gets’

  • Within hours of the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, tanker firms DHT Holdings and Heidmar said they had suspended new bookings to the Gulf
  • Shipping association BIMCO, which represents some 60 percent of the world’s merchant fleet, urged its members to ‘exercise extreme caution’ in the area

LONDON: At least two oil-tanker owners have suspended bookings to the Gulf following Thursday’s attacks in regional waterways, with one shipping analyst saying tension in the area “is now as high as it gets” short of an outright war.

Within hours of the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, tanker firms DHT Holdings and Heidmar said they had suspended new bookings to the Gulf, Reuters reported.

Neither company responded to a request to comment but the news was confirmed to the agency by three ship brokers.

Shipping association BIMCO, which represents some 60 percent of the world’s merchant fleet, urged its members to “exercise extreme caution” in the area — but does not expect long-lasting disruption unless the situation escalates further.

“The tension in the Strait of Hormuz and the Arabian Gulf is now as high as it gets without being an actual armed conflict,” Peter Sand, chief shipping analyst at BIMCO, told Arab News.

“(We advise) our members to exercise extreme caution and instruct their vessels to take precautions … when operating in the area. Depending on the risk acceptance levels of (a particular shipping) company, and to the extent operations allow, it could be considered to instruct ships to avoid the area or keep as much distance as possible.”

Sand said it was understandable that some shipping companies had stopped bookings to the area but doubted whether others will follow.

-------

READ MORE

Tankers attacked with ‘mine and torpedo’ in Gulf of Oman

US blames Iran for Gulf of Oman tanker attacks

-------

“Any attack on international shipping is one too many,” he said.

“This will likely cause ship owners and operators to ask for a premium on freight rates for trading in the area, as risk is now clear and present.

“While still being early hours to do a full and all covering assessment, BIMCO does not expect this to cause a massive and long lasting disruption to seaborne oil flowing out of (the Gulf) — unless this is only the beginning of an escalation of tension in the wider region.”

The Strait of Hormuz is the “No. 1 oil shipping chokepoint in the world,” Sand added.

Almost a fifth of the world’s oil passes through the Strait — some 17.2 million barrels per day — including crude from OPEC members Saudi Arabia, Iran, the UAE, Kuwait and Iraq.

Other governments and maritime agencies also urged caution for ships operating in the region.

The Norwegian Maritime Authority issued a warning to the country’s merchant fleet, advising ships to “exercise high care and alertness in the region,” AP reported.

“Although there is no full clarity in the background for these attacks, the Norwegian Maritime Directorate’s advice is to keep a good distance to Iranian waters based on today’s event,” the agency said.


Huawei given 90 days to buy from US suppliers

Trader Tommy Kalikas works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. (AP)
Updated 20 August 2019

Huawei given 90 days to buy from US suppliers

  • Shortly after blacklisting the company in May, the Commerce Department initially allowed Huawei to purchase some American-made goods in a move aimed at minimizing disruption for its customers

WASHINGTON: US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday the US government will extend a reprieve given to Huawei Technologies that permits the Chinese firm to buy supplies from US companies so that it can service existing customers, even as nearly 50 of its units were being added to a US economic blacklist.
The “temporary general license,” due to expire on Monday, will be extended for Huawei for 90 days, he told Fox Business Network Monday, confirming an expected decision first reported Friday by Reuters. He also said he was adding 46 Huawei affiliates to the Entity List, raising the total number to more than 100 Huawei entities that are covered by the restrictions.
Ross said the extension was to aid US customers, many of which operate networks in rural America.
“We’re giving them a little more time to wean themselves off,” Ross said.
Shortly after blacklisting the company in May, the Commerce Department initially allowed Huawei to purchase some American-made goods in a move aimed at minimizing disruption for its customers.
The extension, through Nov. 19, renews an agreement continuing the Chinese company’s ability to maintain existing telecommunications networks and provide software updates to Huawei handsets.
Asked what will happen in November to US companies, Ross said: “Everybody has had plenty of notice of it, there have been plenty of discussions with the president.”
When the Commerce Department blocked Huawei from buying US goods earlier this year, it was seen as a major escalation in the Sino-US trade war.
The US government blacklisted Huawei, alleging the Chinese company is involved in activities contrary to national security or foreign policy interests.

BACKGROUND

The US blacklisted Huawei, alleging the Chinese company was involved in activities contrary to national security or foreign policy interests.

As an example, the blacklisting order cited a pending federal criminal case concerning allegations Huawei violated US sanctions against Iran. Huawei has pleaded not guilty in the case.

The order noted that the indictment also accused Huawei of “deceptive and obstructive acts.”
At the same time the US says Huawei’s smartphones and network equipment could be used by China to spy on Americans, allegations the company has repeatedly denied.
Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, is still prohibited from buying American parts and components to manufacture new products without additional special licenses.
Many Huawei suppliers have requested the special licenses to sell to the firm. Ross told reporters late last month he had received more than 50 applications, and that he expected to receive more. He said on Monday that there were no “specific licenses being granted for anything.”