Iranian Tanker “Attacked,” Oil Prices Soar

  • "All the ship's crew are safe and the ship is stable too," National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) said.
  • The incident has not yet been confirmed by independent sources, and there were conflicting reports as to whether the ship was on fire and whether the spill was stopped.
  • Oil prices jumped after news of the explosion.

An Iranian tanker was hit on Friday in the Red Sea by two blasts, both of them, according to Iranian state media, caused by missiles. The incident took place off the coast of Saudi Arabia and soon raised fears of escalating tension between the two countries in the unstable region. The missile attack could not yet be independently confirmed, but the location of the Red Sea would be unusual— most hostilities involving Iran occur in the Persian Gulf.

National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) is a subsidiary of the National Iranian Oil Company, which was privatized in 2009. It is the biggest tanker company in the Middle East.

“All the ship’s crew are safe and the ship is stable too,” National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) said, adding “there is no fire” aboard the Sabiti, and the ship is “completely stable.”  The National Iranian Oil Company, which owns the tanker, said the ship was hit at 5 AM and again at 5:20 AM, about 100 km from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The crew members are safe and the ship is in stable condition despite the damaged hull, according to the Iranians. There were conflicting reports as to whether the ship was on fire and whether the oil spill was stopped. The incident has not yet been confirmed by independent sources.

Oil prices jumped after news of the explosion. Brent-type crude oil rose about 2%. If confirmed, the missile attack is likely to increase tensions in the region, where hostility between Saudi Arabia and Iran, waging proxy wars in the Middle East, manifests itself in a number of ways, including the seizure of oil tankers.

Regional tensions have remained high since the September drone attack on two major oil infrastructures in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis blamed Iran, although Houthi rebels in Yemen took responsibility for the operation. The attack, the most serious of its kind in Saudi Arabia, reduced world oil production by almost 6 percent and came after several months of incidents in waters near the Strait of Hormuz, where a fifth of the world’s oil flows.

The United States also blames Iran for sabotaging six oil tankers of different flags this summer in the Gulf of Oman, off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. At the same time, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards shot down a US espionage drone, prompting President Donald Trump to order a bombardment in response, aborted only at the last minute.

Tanker Trackers keeps “a close eye on the production, refinement, shipping and trading of crude oil on a global level.” Per their Twitter bio, “we track the top oil exporters that make the headlines for all the wrong reasons.”

Pісturеѕ rеlеаѕеd on Irаnіаn mеdіа later showed nо dіѕсеrnіblе damage аnd nо evidence of any fire. TankerTrackers, whісh mоnіtоrѕ оіl exports, tоld news sources that thеrе wаѕ nо іndереndеnt еvіdеnсе tо ѕuggеѕt if the vessel hаd bееn hіt. Publісlу-аvаіlаblе ѕhір trасkіng rесоrdѕ ѕhоw bоth ѕhірѕ аrе currently in thе Rеd Sea. Thе SINOPA turnеd іtѕ trаnѕmіttеr оn еаrlіеr this wееk for thе fіrѕt tіmе іn more than 50 dауѕ. Thе Sаbіtі, mеаnwhіlе, turned its trасkеr оn еаrlу Frіdау after nеаrlу 60 days оf no trаnѕmіѕѕіоnѕ.

It іѕ соmmоn fоr Iranian tаnkеrѕ tо turn off аutоmаtіс identification ѕуѕtеmѕ (AIS) tо avoid dеtесtіоn— оftеn to evade іntеrnаtіоnаl ѕаnсtіоnѕ оr hаrаѕѕmеnt frоm Sаudі Arаbіа. TаnkеrTrасkеrѕ ѕаіd this ѕuggеѕtеd thе Sabiti oil tanker, lаdеn wіth оnе million bаrrеlѕ оf oil mау have bееn heading for Syria. Hоwеvеr, it declared thе Gulf as its destination.

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Doris Mkwaya

I am a journalist, with more than 12 years of experience as a reporter, author, editor, and journalism lecturer." I've worked as a reporter, editor and journalism lecturer, and am very enthusiastic about bringing what I've learned to this site.  

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