It’s reported that commercial oil tankers were damaged in “sabotage attacks” in the Mideast Gulf as tensions soared in a region already shaken by a standoff between the United States and Iran.
It came as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo scrapped a planned visit to Moscow to head to Brussels instead for talks with European officials on Iran.
The UAE said that four commercial vessels of various nationalities had been targeted by acts of sabotage off the emirate of Fujairah. Saudi Arabia Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said they had two tankers suffer damage to their structures but there were no casualties or any oil spill.
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 Saudi Aramco’s customers in the United States.
Fujairah’s port is about 85 miles south of the Strait of Hormuz at Iran, which is the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which at least a third of all oil at sea is traded.
It is seen as strategically located, serving shipping routes in the Persian Gulf, the Indian subcontinent and Africa. Fujairah port is the only terminal in the UAE located on the Arabian Sea coast, bypassing the Strait of Hormuz, through which most Gulf oil exports pass.
Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait in case of a military confrontation with the U.S.
Despite the careful omissions in the official statements, it is obvious that Gulf oil and gas shipping came under attack from a party in the region.
The obvious candidate is Iran, whose Revolutionary Guards and their fleet are fully capable of carrying out Tehran’s threatened reprisals for US sanctions on its oil exports.
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