Saudi Revenge? Iran Reports Oil Tanker Explosion

Saudi Revenge? Iran Reports Oil Tanker Explosion

An Iranian-owned oil tanker was struck by two missiles off the Saudi port of Jeddah on Friday, Iranian state television reported, quoting the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) which owns the vessel.

NIOC said the explosion hit the vessel's hull, causing heavy damages to its main reservoirs, resulting in an oil spill in the Red Sea.

The blast set the vessel, which belongs to National Iranian Oil Company, on fire 60 miles (95km) from the Saudi port city of Jeddah, it reported.

The US Navy's Fifth Fleet, which operates in the region, said it was aware of media reports about the tanker.

Futures jumped by nearly US$1 a barrel after the Islamic Republic News Agency reported a National Iranian Oil Company tanker caught fire after a blast, taking the day's gains to more than 2%.

Tensions in the Middle East have escalated in the wake of attacks on tankers and U.S. drones in the Strait of Hormuz, a key shipping artery of the global oil trade.

Brent is still lower than it was before the September 14 drone and missile strikes on Saudi Arabia's Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities last month that briefly cut global supplies by 5%, the worst sudden disruption in history.

Today's attack could push tensions between Iran and the U.S. even higher, more than a year after Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the 2015 nuclear deal and imposed sanctions against Tehran.

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There was no immediate acknowledgement from the kingdom of this amid heightened tensions across the Middle East.

The Yemeni Houthi Ansarullah movement immediately took credit for the attacks, but US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo swiftly accused Iran of being behind the assault, without providing any evidence.

The price of oil spiked on Friday after reports of an attack on an Iranian oil tanker.

In May, an Iranian oil tanker carrying more than 1 million barrels of fuel oil suffered a reported malfunction in the same area as the Sabiti came under attack.

Iran, which has supported the Houthis' fight against the Saudi-backed government in Sana'a, has denied any involvement in the attack.

The explosion comes after the United States accused Iran of attacking oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz and could further inflame tensions between Washington and Tehran.

The Teheran visit comes after Mr Khan last month said US President Donald Trump had asked him to help defuse tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

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