Oil tanker catches fire off Syria’s coast

10 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

BEIRUT: A fire broke out Sunday on an oil tanker off northwest Syria’s Banyas refinery due to “technical failure” in one of its engines, state media reported.

“A technical failure in one of the engines of an oil tanker parked off the coast of the city of Banyas led to a small fire and the appearance of black smoke,” SANA news agency said.

“The fire was dealt with by the tanker’s crew and it was put out immediately before causing any damage.”

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said an “explosion” caused the blaze.

It was the same “Iranian vessel” that had caught fire in an April 24 attack that killed three Syrians, including two crew members, according to the war monitor’s head Rami Abdul Rahman.

Syria’s oil ministry at the time said a drone attack was believed to have caused the blaze. Tanker Trackers identified Sunday’s vessel as the Panama-flagged WISDOM ship—the same ship in last month’s attack.

Banias oil refinery is located in the regime-controlled coastal province of Tartus.

Early last year, Damascus said divers had planted explosives on offshore pipelines of Banias refinery, but the damage had not halted operations.

And in February 2020, four oil and gas sites in the central Syrian province of Homs were attacked by armed drones, sparking fires and causing damage.

Before its war broke out in 2011, Syria enjoyed relative energy autonomy, but production has since plummeted, pushing the government to rely on importing hydrocarbons.