Global oil major Shell has reportedly halted Red Sea oil shipments “indefinitely” over mounting attacks on international shipping by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Shell made the decision after air strikes by the US and UK governments destroyed dozens of sites in Yemen in response to ongoing assaults on international vessels.The Houthi say they have been targeting Israeli-linked ships but after the most recent strikes declared Anglo-American interests as “legitimate targets” and have shown no signs of buckling under US pressure.In December, an India-bound Shell tanker was targeted by drones and harassed by Houthi boats..In tit-for-tat exchanges over the weekend, the US Air Force on Sunday shot down a Houthi cruise missile targeting an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer patrolling the southern Red Sea. It was followed on Monday by an attack on a US-owned merchant ship that was hit by a Houthi rocket.And on Tuesday, rebels struck a Maltese-flagged bulk carrier that was damaged but still able to continue transiting the area. The US responded with four more strikes to avert what it said was “an imminent threat to both merchant and US Navy ships in the region.”“An anti-ship cruise missile was fired from Iranian-backed Houthi militant areas of Yemen toward USS Laboon, which was operating in the Southern Red Sea. The missile was shot down in the vicinity of the coast of Hudaydah by US fighter aircraft,” according to the US Central Command. “There were no injuries or damage reported."In a subsequent release, it blamed Iran for providing weapons in direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions. “It is clear that Iran continues shipment of advanced lethal aid to the Houthis. This is yet another example of how Iran actively sows instability throughout the region.”On Tuesday, the Houthis said all US ships passing through the Red Sea will be targetted for future attack.American President Joe Biden responded by saying he “will not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and the free flow of international commerce as necessary.”According to the WSJ Shell made the decision to suspend transit last week, prior to the latest incidents, but has not officially confirmed the move. But its CEO, Wael Sawan, said at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland that the company is waiting “to see if it becomes a longer-standing issue.”.If so, it would join British oil giant BP which suspended oil shipments in December. Shipping giant Maersk also said it would divert cargoes around the Cape of Good Hope and away from both the Suez Canal and Red Sea “for the foreseeable future.”Qatar, one of the world’s largest LNG exporters, said fuel shipments could be affected if the conflict escalates. It’s uncertain what impact the curtailments will have on world oil prices, given that an exponentially larger amount of crude flows through the Persian Gulf — which borders Iran. But an estimated 12% of global trade passes through the Bab al-Mandeb Strait between Yemen and Djibouti..On Tuesday world oil prices were down modestly; North American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) dipped 47 cents to USD$71.91 while UK Brent was off 50 cents to $77.75.