In the Red sea, about 125 miles north of Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen, an oil tanker has suffered a blast attack. The Athens-based TMS Tankers said the Maltese-flagged vessel was “attacked by an unknown source” after it had finished discharging and was equipping to depart the dock in Shuqaiq, Saudi Arabia.
TMS Tankers made a statement saying, “The Agrari was struck about one meter above the waterline and has suffered a breach. It has been confirmed that the crew is safe and there have been no injuries. No pollution has been reported. The vessel is in ballast condition and stable.” They added that further investigations with local authorities and the Coast Guard were in process.
The incident won’t change Saudi Arabia’s capacity to produce or export oil as it didn’t take place at a crude oil export facility. According to shipping data, the Agrari appears to have been returning after delivering fuel oil to Europe.
In recent days, there have been signs of tension has been brewing between Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
The Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting the Houthis said the vessel suffered minor damage from the blast, in what it described as a foiled “terrorist act”. A commercial vessel was damaged by shrapnel from the “booby-trapped boat”.
A few hours after the incident, state TV reported that Saudi-led coalition forces were destroying an explosives-laden boat and a commercial vessel was damaged in the process.
“The hostile acts of the Houthi militia threaten shipping lanes and global trade,” said the coalition on the Saudi state-run Al-Ekhbariya television.
The Houthi officials haven’t made any statements concerning the incident.
Head of the Middle East and North Africa at Eurasia Group, advisor to clients with political risks, Ayham Kamel said, “There’s definitely an uptick of attacks from the Yemen side of the border onto Saudi Arabia to try and attempt to send a signal that it’s not just in the Strait of Hormuz and in the Persian Gulf that Iran has the ability to undermine Saudi oil interests and naval activities.”
“I can’t confirm what exactly the cause was. It is possible [that it was from a mine], certainly, it was a blast,” said a TMS company source on Wednesday.
Munro Anderson, a partner at maritime security firm Dryad Global said, “At this stage, we don’t know if this is a case of a sea mine striking the vessel or whether this is a direct attack… there are still several old mines present in the Red Sea.” When the current event took place it was “well within” the area where the risk levels were high, he said.
On Monday, via the Saudi Press Agency, Saudi Arabia confirmed that another explosion took place in Jeddah, at a petroleum products distribution terminal.
“The Kingdom condemns this cowardly attack and reaffirmed that such acts of terrorism and sabotage, committed against vital installations – including the recent incident, in Jizan, near the floating offloading platform of the petroleum products distribution terminal, and the previous terrorist attack on oil installations, in Abqaiq and Khurais – are aimed at the security and stability of energy supplies to the world, as well as the global economy,” Saudi Arabia said on Monday.
References: bloomberg.com / aljazeera.com