Houthi Rebels Strike Yemeni Oil Terminal for the Second Time

Ash Shihr
The southern Arabian Peninsula, looking south. Ash Shihr is located on Yemen's Gulf of Oman coastline, center left (NASA / Hubble)

Published Nov 21, 2022 10:20 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Ash Shihr oil terminal is beginning to look like an unfriendly place for tankers. On Monday, the Saudi-backed Yemeni government claimed that Houthi rebels attacked the terminal while a Panama-flagged tanker was near a loading buoy.

According to the Royal Navy-run monitoring center UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), a missile or rocket was used to attack a single-point mooring at the Ash Shihr (al-Shihr) oil loading terminal on Yemen's southern coast at 1512 hours local time on Monday. The name of the vessel has not been released, but it departed unharmed and no crewmembers were injured. 

Two workers at the terminal confirmed the attack to Reuters, and they identified the vessel in question as the VLCC Pratika, which is managed by a UAE-based firm.

The attack was the second Houthi strike on the terminal in a month. 

Okeanis Eco Tankers reported on October 21 that one of its tankers, the 300,000 dwt VLCC Nissos Kea, came under attack at Ash Shihr. While the vessel was at the buoy for loading, "there were two drone-driven explosions in close proximity," Okeanis reported. The master responded by departing the loading buoy and heading out to sea. 

Neither of the two blasts struck the tanker, and the crew were unharmed. There was no damage to the vessel and no pollution was reported, the operator said.

A fragile six-month truce between the Houthi forces and the Saudi-backed coalition behind Yemen's government lapsed at the beginning of October. Since then, fighting has resumed, and the Houthi movement has repeatedly warned that it could take action to block oil exports from government-controlled ports, according to Dryad Global. 

Houthi forces have been fighting the internationally-recognized government of Yemen since 2014, and they hold control over most of the impoverished nation's population centers. They have sponsorship in the form of weapons and technology from Iran. This support includes ballistic missiles, drone "bomb boats" and an array of weaponized drone aircraft, including "suicide" loitering munitions. Houthi forces have previously used these systems for attacks on maritime commerce, particularly on vessels associated with the Saudi-backed coalition.