Saudi Arabia says two of its oil tankers attacked near UAE waters

Erika Holt
May 15, 2019

Oil prices nevertheless jumped on Tuesday morning after news of the drone attack coming soon after the weekend's oil tanker sabotage.

"If they do anything it'll be a very bad mistake, if they do anything", Trump told reporters on Monday during a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the White House.

The precise nature of the incident remained unclear.

Earlier this month, the Maritime Administration warned that U.S. commercial ships including oil tankers sailing through key Middle East waterways could be targeted by Iran in one of the threats to United States interests posed by Teheran.

Brent crude futures were at $71.02 a barrel at 1335 GMT, up 79 cents or 1.12 per cent.

In recent weeks, the United States has indicated to New Delhi that India will not get any more time to reduce its imports to zero and has to look for other sources of oil.

The attack caused "significant damage" to the vessels, Al-Falih said.

The East-West pipeline of Saudi's state-run Aramco has been temporarily shut down to evaluate its condition. "Saudi Aramco's oil and gas supplies have not been impacted as a result of this incident", it added.

The pipeline transports oil from the oilfields in the Eastern Province to the port of Yanbu on the west coast.

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Iran was a prime suspect in the sabotage on Sunday although Washington had no conclusive proof, a US official familiar with American intelligence said on Monday.

Images that CNN captured of the Norwegian tanker, Andrea Victory, show damage sustained to the hull of the vessel. It said "the precise means of attack or sabotage is unknown".

Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen's internationally recognised governments similarly condemned the alleged sabotage. Jordan joined the condemnation.

Nevertheless, that it was Bolton in particular who's been pushing defense officials to revise their Iran plans may indicate his willingness to exploit any bureaucratic opportunity to raise tensions with the country.

UAE officials said four commercial vessels had been damaged, and Saudi officials said two of its ships - on their way to be filled with crude oil - were sabotaged.

It is not known who carried out the attack, but no one was killed in the incident. It was held days after what the Trump administration described, without evidence, as new intelligence indicating that Iran was mobilizing proxy groups in Iraq and Syria to attack American forces. On Tuesday, Sudan joined the countries condemning the incident.

"We fundamentally don't seek a war with Iran", Pompeo said.

"This is a message to Saudi Arabia: Stop your aggression", Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdel-Salam told The Associated Press.

The announcement by the kingdom's energy minister Khalid al Falih came as tensions soared in a region already shaken by a stand-off between the United States and Iran. The U.S. has long advised its citizens against travel to Iraq, but the renewed warning followed Washington's deployment of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf in response to unspecified "threats" by Iran.

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