Two oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, leaving one ablaze and both adrift, shipping firms said, driving oil prices as much as 4 per cent higher over worries about Middle East supplies.
The Front Altair, carrying petrochemical feedstock, was on fire in waters between Gulf Arab states and Iran after an explosion that a source blamed on a magnetic mine. The Norwegian owner said its crew were safe. A second Japanese-owned tanker was abandoned after being hit by a suspected torpedo, the firm that chartered the ship said. The crew were also picked up.
Thursday’s attacks were the second in a month near the Strait of Hormuz, a major strategic waterway for world oil supplies.
"We need to remember that some 30 per cent of the world's (seaborne) crude oil passes through the Straits. If the waters are becoming unsafe, the supply to the entire Western world could be at risk," said Paolo d’Amico, chairman of INTERTANKO tanker association. The United States and Saudi Arabia blamed Iran for limpet mine attacks in May on four tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, a charge Tehran denies.
"Forty-four sailors from the two foreign oil tankers which had an accident this morning in the Sea of Oman were saved from the water by the (navy) rescue unit of Hormozgan province and transferred to the port of Bandar-e-Jask," IRNA quoted an "informed source" as saying.