Yemen: Snapshot on Shipping, Food and Fuel Imports, November 2016

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In November, volume of fuel and food imported in Yemen has increased; despite this, and a relative stabilisation of prices, estimated monthly needs are still only partially covered, and prices of basic commodities continue to be much higher than in pre-crisis period. Significant delays are also still experienced in all major ports in the country, mostly due to reduced operational capacity and damaged infrastructure.

Monthly food imports and price fluctuation

According to available data, food imports in Yemen have almost doubled during the month of November, with 445,119 mt imported (including both commercial and humanitarian imports). This appears to be due to an increase in bulk carriers carrying large quantities of food items that have discharged cargo during November, after being held at anchorage in October. The number of berths for vessels carrying food commodities doubled from 7 vessels in October to 15 in November. Prices of basic food commodities remained stable between October and November 2016, but they are still higher than those recorded during the pre-crisis period. As a result of this stabilization of prices of essential food commodities, the average cost of the minimum food basket slightly declined from October to November, but remains 23.3% higher than in the pre-crisis period. WFP continues to report remarkable differences in the prices of food commodities across governorates.

Status of ships at ports per month

In November, the number of vessels berthing at Yemeni ports increased to 65, compared to 51 in the previous month. While data reported from Aden for the month of October was incomplete and hence did not reflect accurately the situation, UNVIM did report a decrease in clearance requests for fuel and bulk food. This worrisome trend, which started in mid-October, continued until mid-November. This decrease appears to be linked to recent relocation of the Central Bank of Yemen from Sana’a to Aden, as well as to seasonal variations in cargo imports.

Monthly fuel imports vs fuel needs

In November, volume of fuel imported in Yemen kept rising, with 219,522 mt imported, compared to 211,188 mt in October (+4%) and 109,764 mt in September (+100%). Despite the increase, this only covers 40% of the overall monthly fuel needs, estimated at 544,000 mt. The national average prices of petrol and diesel increased by 11% and 2%, respectively, while that of cooking gas dropped by 5% between October and November 2016. However, the prices of fuel commodities remained substantially higher in November than in pre-crisis time – cooking gas rose by 65%, petrol by 38%, and diesel by 29% compared to the level recorded before the crisis.

Average delays in entering ports

Due to limited and damaged infrastructure, major delays continues to be experienced in the main entry ports of Aden, Al Hudaydah and Saleef. Confirming the trend witnessed in the previous months, the longest delays at anchorage remain at Saleef port, with vessels waiting for berth 48 days, on average, with peaks of over 100 days. These delays are attributable to the very limited infrastructure with a two-berth capacity only,