Two Saudi Oil Tankers Targeted in Sunday's 'Sabotage Attack' Near Iran

Saudi energy minister says one vessel was to be loaded with oil for delivery to the United States ■ Kingdom expresses support for United Arab Emirates after attack of its coast

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Saudi cargo ship Bahri Yanbu next to British crude oil tanker Nordic Space (L) waiting in the port of Le Havre, May 9, 2019.
Saudi cargo ship Bahri Yanbu next to British crude oil tanker Nordic Space (L) waiting in the port of Le Havre, May 9, 2019. Credit: AFP

Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Monday that two Saudi oil tankers were targeted on Sunday in "a sabotage attack" off the coast of Fujairah, part of the United Arab Emirates, threatening the security of global oil supplies.

One of the two vessels was on its way to be loaded with Saudi crude oil from the port of Ras Tanura, to be delivered to state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco's customers in the United States, Falih said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.

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Oil prices rose on Monday, with Brent crude futures at $71.71 a barrel by 0912 GMT, up $1.09.

Trading and shipping sources identified the Saudi vessels as Bahri-owned very large crude carrier (VLCC) tanker Amjad and crude tanker Al Marzoqah. National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (Bahri) did not respond to a request for comment.

The attack did not lead to any casualties or an oil spill but caused significant damage to the structures of the two vessels, he added.

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Following the attack, Saudi Arabia expressed support for the UAE, its state news agency SPA said, citing a foreign ministry statement.

The attacks constitute a "dangerous threat to the safety of navigation and affects negatively regional and international security," the ministry added.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia said two of its oil tankers were among vessels targeted by a "sabotage attack" off the UAE coast, condemning the episode as a bid to undermine security of global crude supplies.

In response, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi called the incidents “worrisome and dreadful”, and asked for an investigation into aspects of the matter.

Mousavi was cited by the semi-official ISNA news agency as saying “such incidents have negative impact on maritime transportation security”, and asking for regional countries to be “vigilant against destabilizing plots of foreign agents."

On Sunday, the UAE foreign ministry said four commercial vessels were targeted by "sabotage operations" near the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates without causing casualties. It gave no details of the nature of the sabotage.

Tensions are running high in the region after the U.S. military sent forces, including an aircraft carrier, to the Middle East to counter what the White House says are "clear indications" of threats from Iran to its forces there.

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