90 Miles From Tyranny : Two oil tankers struck in suspected attacks in Gulf of Oman - shipping firms

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Two oil tankers struck in suspected attacks in Gulf of Oman - shipping firms

  • * Incident follows suspected attacks on May 12
  • * U.S. Navy says responded to distress calls
  • * Oil prices surge 4% on Gulf of Oman incident
DUBAI, June 13 (Reuters) - Two oil tankers were hit in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman, shipping firms and industry sources said on Thursday, sending oil prices as much as 4% higher a month after four other tankers were damaged by limpet mines in the region.

One of the tankers, the Front Altair, carrying a cargo of petrochemical feedstock, was ablaze in waters between Gulf Arab states and Iran.

Iran's state news agency said it had sunk, although the Norwegian owner had said it was afloat and its crew were safe. The other tanker was adrift without any crew.

The Bahrain-based U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet said it was assisting the tankers after receiving distress calls. The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, part of Britain's Royal Navy, said it was investigating with its partners.

Full details about Thursday's incident were not immediately clear. The firm which chartered one of the vessels said it suspected a torpedo had hit the ship, while a source said the other might have been damaged by a magnetic mine.

An investigation blamed limpet mines for last month's attacks on four tankers. Saudi Arabia and the United States blamed Iran for those attacks, a charge Tehran denies.

Oil prices surged as much as 4% after Thursday's news. The region was already on edge following attacks in May on Gulf oil assets that occurred amid a dispute between Iran and the United States over Tehran's nuclear programme.

The Gulf of Oman lies at the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz, a major strategic waterway through which a fifth of global oil consumption passes from Middle East producers.

There was no immediate confirmation of Thursday's incident from authorities in Oman or the United Arab Emirates, in whose territorial waters the four tankers were hit in May.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have said attacks on oil assets in the Gulf pose a risk to...

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