Saudi Arabia said on Monday that two Saudi oil tankers were among vessels targeted by a “sabotage attack” off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, condemning it as an attempt to undermine the security of global crude supplies, Reuters informs.
The UAE said on Sunday that four commercial vessels were sabotaged near Fujairah emirate, one of the world’s largest bunkering hubs lying just outside the Strait of Hormuz. UAE authorities did not say who was behind the operation, which took place amid heightened tensions between the United States and Iran.
Iran’s foreign ministry called the incidents “worrisome and dreadful” and asked for an investigation into the matter.
The strait, a vital global oil and gas shipping route, separates the Gulf states and Iran, which has been embroiled in an escalating war of words with the United States over sanctions and the U.S. military’s presence in the region, Reuters adds.
Oil prices rose on Monday, with Brent crude futures trading at $70.98 a barrel at 0618 GMT.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said in a statement that one of the two Saudi vessels attacked was on its way to be loaded with Saudi crude from Ras Tanura port for delivery to state-owned Saudi Aramco’s customers in the United States.
The attack did not lead to any casualties or an oil spill but caused significant damage to the vessels’ structures, said the statement.
INTERTANKO, an association of independent tanker owners and operators, said in a note that it has seen pictures showing that “at least two ships have holes in their sides due to the impact of a weapon.”
Trading and shipping sources identified the Saudi vessels as Bahri-owned very large crude carrier (VLCC) tanker Amjad and crude tanker Al Marzoqah. Bahri did not respond to a request for comment.
The UAE foreign ministry has said there were no casualties and the Fujairah port operations were normal. An investigation had been launched in coordination with international authorities, it said, calling on global powers to prevent any parties trying to harm maritime safety and security, Reuters informs.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry in a separate statement voiced support for its close regional ally the UAE, the Middle East’s trade and business hub. Dubai’s stock exchange index fell 1.6% and Abu Dhabi’s index 1.7% in early trade on Monday.