UAE says four vessels targets of 'sabotage' in waters near Fujairah port

Andrew Cummings
May 14, 2019

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said the sabotage was meant to "undermine the freedom of maritime navigation, and the security of oil supplies to consumers all over the world". A militant group called Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which is linked to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility.

While details of the incident remain unclear, it raised risks for shippers in a region vital to global energy supplies at a time of increasing tensions between the United States and Iran over its unravelling nuclear deal with world powers. The top US diplomat again suddenly switched his plans for Monday, skipping Moscow for a trip to Brussels, where he will "meet with European allies to discuss recent threatening actions and statements by Iran".

Falih said the attack aimed to undermine maritime freedom and the security of oil supplies to consumers worldwide.

The minister's statement stressed the responsibility of the worldwide community to "protect the safety of maritime navigation and the security of oil tankers, to mitigate against the adverse consequences of such incidents on energy markets, and the danger they pose to the global economy".

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said last week that for Tehran to stay in the nuclear deal, Iranian oil sales should reach their pre-sanctions level, or at least "start the process of returning" to such a level.

The incident has fuelled fears of military confrontation in the volatile waterway, amid rising tension between Iran and the USA over the unravelling of the 2015 deal created to keep Tehran's nuclear...

Iran's foreign ministry called the incidents "worrisome and dreadful" and asked for an investigation. Even as the S&P 500 was down more than 2 percent during midday trading on Monday, Brent crude was up 1.5 percent. Oil had been losing ground since late last month on signs that Saudi Arabia would pump more to make up for lost Iranian barrels and a looming trade war between the world's two largest economies, the US and China. Gulf stock markets fell on Monday, with Dubai down 2.6 per cent and the Saudi index down over 2 per cent. Pipelines owned by the UAE and Saudi Arabia can't carry as much oil as tankers, and while Saudi Arabia and Iran have alternate seaports, their neighbors don't.

The UAE's foreign ministry said it's investigating the tanker incident with local and worldwide parties. No one was hurt, and no fuel or chemicals were spilled, the state-run WAM news agency quoted the ministry as saying. 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 customers in the US.

Are there alternative routes for Gulf Oil?

The UAE foreign ministry has said there were no casualties and the Fujairah port operations were normal.

Two of the four commercial vessels that were targeted by "acts of sabotage" near the UAE's territorial waters were from Saudi Arabia, while the other two were from the UAE and Norway, reported Al Arabiya's correspondent.

What is the Strait of Hormuz?

- Most crude exported from Saudi Arabia, Iran, the UAE, Kuwait and Iraq - all members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) - is shipped through the waterway.

Other reports by iNewsToday