Published On: Thu, Mar 26th, 2015

War Saves the Day: Oil Prices Shoot Upward after Saudis Attack in Yemen

Armed with sufficiently long range rockets, the Iran-supported rebels could pose a serious threat to tankers in the Bab el-Mandeb.

Royal Saudi Air Force jet

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The price of oil climbed up on Thursday in reaction to Saudi airforce bombing of Houthi rebels who had taken over the Yemeni capital, leading to speculations (or fear) that the hostilities would lead to a regional war.

The Saudi attacks on the Iran proxy forces of Shia Houthis are supported by a 10-country Sunni coalition. On Thursday morning the Saudis bombed from the air targets in Houthi-controlled Sana, and the Houthis responded by firing rockets into Saudi territory.

Oil prices rose by as much as 6 per cent on Thursday in response to the strikes, then later fell back slightly, the Financial Times reported. Brent crude rose $2.36 to $58.84 a barrel, and West Texas Intermediate rose $1.62 to $50.83.

Bab el-Mandeb

The fighting is being carried on disturbingly close to the Bab el-Mandeb strait, between Yemen and Djibouti, which connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. It is only 18 miles wide at the narrowest point, and so has long been viewed by the U.S. as a potential “chokepoint” for oil carriers in case of a local war.

Tankers carrying a daily average of 4 million barrels of crude from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq must pass through the strait on their way to the Suez Canal and then Europe.

Armed with sufficiently long range rockets, the Iran-supported rebels could pose a serious threat to tankers in the Bab el-Mandeb.

Bernadette Meehan, spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said that U.S. forces are staying out of this conflict, but are setting up a “joint planning cell” with the Saudis and their allies.

“The United States co-ordinates closely with Saudi Arabia and our GCC partners on issues related to their security and our shared interests, ” she said.

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