Published: Tue, May 14, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Oil tanker sabotage off UAE raises tension

Oil tanker sabotage off UAE raises tension

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.

Saudi Arabia claimed that two of its oil tankers were attacked on Sunday while sailing toward the Persian Gulf. Within the context of the United States and its close Arab allies-including the Emirates and Saudi Arabia-increasing their threats and waging financial warfare against Tehran, such security crises near the Strait of Hormuz, where one-fifth of the world's oil transits, has become increasingly risky as the room grows for miscalculation.

The official said each ship has a 5- to 10-foot hole in it, near or just below the water line, and the team's early belief is that the holes were caused by explosive charges. A second has been surrounded by a boom as a precaution to contain any oil leak.

Tensions have risen since Trump withdrew America from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, and restored U.S. sanctions that have pushed Iran's economy into crisis.

The UAE's foreign ministry said it's investigating the tanker incident with local and worldwide parties.

The incident comes against a backdrop of rising U.S. -Iran tension, although there was no evidence of Iranian involvement at this point.

- The UAE and Saudi Arabia have sought to find other routes to bypass the Strait, including building more oil pipelines.

The U.S. has warned that "Iran or its proxies" may be targeting maritime traffic in the region. It has the advantage of allowing ships to load up and drop off crude oil without needing to pass through Hormuz at all. On the anniversary of this exit Wednesday, Iran announced it would end some of its commitments as European parties to the agreement had not lived up to their end of the bargain in the face of us economic pressure since the pullout.

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Fujairah also is about 140 kilometers (85 miles) south of the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a third of all oil at sea is traded.

"The worldwide community (needs to) assume its responsibilities to prevent any parties trying to undermine the security and safety of maritime traffic", the ministry said.

UAE Navy boats are seen next to Al Marzoqah, Saudi Arabian tanker, off the Port of Fujairah, UAE, May 13, 2019.

IOC, BPCL and HPCL have not placed a request for extra Saudi oil for June after the Kingdom raised official selling price for Asia, the sources said. Saudi officials haven't disclosed casualties or whether there was an oil spill from the incident, but said it caused "significant damage to the structures of the two vessels", reported CNN.

USA defense officials told VOA that the US military is assisting in the investigation of the sabotage at the request of the UAE government. The strait is a vital oil and natural gas corridor for the global energy market, Reuters said.

The Iran spokesman warned against "plots by ill-wishers to disrupt regional security" and called for "vigilance of regional states in the face of any adventurism by foreign elements".

Last week Iran had threatened that it would resume enriching uranium at higher levels within two months if terms for a new deal are not agreed on by then. Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia are staunch opponents of Iran's government. The Islamic Republic has threatened to block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if the US halts Iranian energy exports and to scale back its obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal.

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