Two oil tankers held in Houthi-controlled port in Yemen

Two oil tankers held in Houthi-controlled port in Yemen
Houthi rebels in control of Yemen's Hodeida port, have held two international oil tankers after a payment dispute with the owners.
2 min read
15 September, 2016
Houthi rebels control Yemen's second largest Hodeida port [AFP]

Two oil tankers have been seized by Yemen's Houthi rebels in Hodeida after a payment dispute with the owners, it was revealed on Wednesday.

The vessels were banned from leaving the rebel-controlled Red Sea port the Singapore-based Ocean Tankers confirmed.

"The vessels themselves are not under arrest but have unfortunately been caught up in a commercial dispute between cargo interests. The dispute is nothing to do with Ocean Tankers or our ships and we hope the dispute can be settled quickly," an Ocean Tankers spokesman said.

No details on the dispute have been provided, however, trading sources allege that Yemeni authorities issued an injunction to ban the vessels from leaving the port.

Yemen's Sanaa authority is not accepted as legitimate by the international community, and instead the Aden-based government of Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi is recognised by the UN. 

It comes after the owners failed to pay tens of millions of dollars for a cargo of gasoline and oil, Reuters reported.

Gunvor – the charterer for one of the two vessels held – and regularly supplies Yemen's main oil company, filed a law suit against Crugas with the UK's high court to claim nearly $39 million in losses.

The Houthi rebels overran large parts of Yemen and captured strategic positions, including the Hodeida port and the capital Sanaa in September 2014.

The move – described as a coup by the internationally-recognised government – prompted neighbouring Saudi Arabia and allies to create an Arab coalition designed to bring Hadi back to power Hadi, and hit the Houth-led rebel force.

Yemen, which already has trouble importing goods including fuel, could now see further complications due to the incident involving the two vessels, Ben Heaney, head of political risk at French shipping insurance broker Aon France, told Reuters.

"Any detention or frustration action in Yemen that affects the oil sector and is not resolved promptly will almost certainly lead to a total withdrawal of insurance and finance appetite to fund and cover these types of risks," he said.