TEHRAN: Suspected missile strikes hit an Iranian oil tanker off the Saudi coast on Friday, its owner said, the first Iranian vessel targeted since a spate of attacks in the Gulf Washington blamed on Tehran, reports AFP.
The National Iranian Tanker Company, which owns the ship, said the hull of the Sabiti was hit by two separate explosions off the Saudi port of Jeddah, saying they were “probably caused by missile strikes”.Oil prices surged more than two percent on the news, which raised fresh supply concerns with tensions still high after last month’s attacks on two Saudi crude facilities.
The International Energy Agency warned against market complacency after the attack, as it noted that a quick recovery of output and fears of a global economic slowdown had already seen prices recover from the September attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure.
The blasts come just weeks after two of Saudi Arabia’s biggest oil installations were hit, wiping out five percent of global production.
The National Iranian Tanker Company said the hull of the vessel was hit by two separate explosions about 100 kilometres (60 miles) off the Saudi coast.
It identified the tanker as the Sabiti and said the blasts were “probably caused by missile strikes”.
“All the ship’s crew are safe and the ship is stable too,” NITC said, adding those on board were trying to repair the damage. Iran’s foreign ministry said the tanker was attacked “from a location close to the corridor it was passing, east of the Red Sea,” stopping short of naming Saudi Arabia.Oil was leaking from the tanker into the Red Sea.
“The responsibility of this incident, including the serious environmental pollution, falls on the perpetrators of this reckless act,” said ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi, adding that investigations are continuing.
According to ship tracking service TankerTrackers, the Sabiti is fully laden with one million barrels and has declared the Gulf as its destination.
According to Iranian state television, the blasts could have been the result of a “terrorist attack.”